I just read the letter to editor in response to your 'Bad Air Days' article (Aug. 12), which I did not read.
After working for NIH in Rockville on Parklawn Dr. for a number of years and participating in a car pool for the last 2.5 years of that time, my lab moved onto the main campus of NIH. This was great for my lab but bad for my commute. I had to quit my carpool and have been unable to find another one. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that parking is too easy on the main campus. This probably seems heretical to most but it is true. There are insufficient incentives to carpool. In Rockville I was able to get a list of those who worked in the Parklawn complex who also lived in my general vicinity. When I tried to get similar information here in Bethesda, the only available info was for people who voluntarily supplied it to a large metro area-wide database. How about making a list of people within geographical areas with their work phone numbers available to NIH'ers as well as a list of existing carpools available to persons wishing to take this extremely practical step to reduce commuting expenses (to society) whether they be in the form of pollution, dollars or stress?
Claims of privacy to withhold this info should not fly unless the persons decline the parking permit now furnished for free.
I am not suggesting that anyone be forced to participate in a carpool. I am suggesting that [people] should be willing to make themselves known to other NIH'ers with whom they share similar commutes. How people choose to deal with that information they can decide for themselves. I found that I saved on the order of $70/month in gas and tolls in a carpool with 5-6 other people. Hopefully that could be incentive enough.
I agree with Dr. Shotland that NIH should replace highly polluting diesel shuttle buses with less polluting natural gas or electric buses. NIH should eliminate free parking and use the parking fees to pay for the new buses, and expand the Transhare program. Free parking amounts to a subsidy to polluting commuting. NIH is served by several bus lines, a Metro stop, and several dedicated satellite parking facilities and shuttles. All of these would enjoy more use if we were to end the free parking pollution subsidy.
Currently my commute costs 25 cents worth of gasoline round trip, or $2.20 in bus fares. We have designed a bad system when the less polluting commute costs eight times more and takes longer. Exhorting people to change their behavior is far less effective than changing the relative price and convenience of the competing options. We at NIH have it in our power to change the equation and make the less polluting commute also the cheaper commute. We can provide a better atmosphere (literally) for the patients who come to NIH for treatment by replacing diesel buses and encouraging more transit use. Beyond cleaning up the air locally, we would reduce acid rain, greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on imported oil.
Up to Top