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CSU Monterey Bay beat the competition to win its division in the annual Rideshare Month event sponsored by the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.

Otters – students, staff and faculty – bested the other campuses in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties to take top honors in the College Challenge division and earn $500.

According to Megan Tolbert, CSUMB’s transportation planner, 70 Otters participated in the contest. They traveled 21,048 miles in October without driving alone.

“That means they walked, biked, shuttled, bused, carpooled, skated and skipped,” she said.

Participants made healthy, economical, environmentally friendly choices about how they commuted and got around CSUMB, helping “to make our campus a healthier and friendlier place to be,” Tolbert said.

The trick was getting people to sign-up. Students from Heather Ward’s environmental science and policy class actively recruited participants; prize drawings were held; flyers were posted around campus; and members of the Sustainability Committee and residence hall leaders were encouraged to join the effort.

Once they signed up, participants logged each eligible trip they took during October. The total number of miles logged at the end of the month determined the winner.

Competition was held in six categories: employers, non-profits and colleges, as well as individuals in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. The Monterey Bay Aquarium won the Employer Challenge; Ecology Action topped the non-profit competition.

The contest provided an opportunity for people to rethink their daily commute and discover ways to use transportation options. Those options include:

• The Otter Trolley shuttle, for getting around campus. They run every eight minutes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Monterey-Salinas Transit. Buses are free for everyone with an Otter ID card. To check out the bus schedule, visit mst.org. The UPASS (unlimited transit pass) program that started last year has been a huge success – Otters are riding the buses more than ever, saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

• Carpooling. Visit the Otter Rideshare Board in the Student Center to match up with a ride, or go online to CommuteAlternatives.info to find carpool or vanpool matches.

• Biking. Rent a bike, helmet and lock at the Otter Cycle Center in the Student Center.

A solo commuter switching his or her commute to existing public transportation on a single day every week can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 pounds or more than 4,800 pounds in a year. . .
– MST website, January 2010

Learn more about transportation options on campus and in the area.

Tolbert is looking for ideas about how to spend the $500 award. Suggestions include hiring a student to work on the bike garage project or TRIPwise outreach; buying a banner or sign for TRIPwise or a video camera; printing brochures about alternative transportation options; or supplementing the bike garage budget. Contact her at trip@csumb.edu with ideas.

Rideshare Month is the Monterey Bay Area's annual campaign designed to increase awareness about the benefits of using sustainable transportation. Commuters are asked to use a sustainable form of transportation at least one day during Rideshare Month in order to help relieve our congested streets and highways, improve air quality, and save energy resources and commute costs.