You might think you spend a lot of time sitting in traffic, but did you know that the average Houstonian also spends $6,000 a year on commuting? That's not just gas. That includes everything from new tires, wear and tear on your car, and wasted productivity.
That's why this month the Houston-Galveston Area Council is trying to encourage Houstonians to consider alternative means of transport as part of something they're calling "Commute Solution Months."
Yes, months, plural. Commute Solution Month (singular) is a nation-wide effort in August to get people to drive less. But due to Houston's heat, H-GAC extends the program into fall to make it a little more effective. After all, no one wants to bike to work in the dead of summer.
That's not to say that cycling is your only option. The point of the program is to consider ALL the options available to Houstonians, from light rail to carpooling to trip-combining. Therefore, HGAC has launched a website, MySolutionIs.com, where locals can pledge to take a wallet- and eco-friendly commute. Anything that deviates from driving to work alone five days a week constitutes an alternative.
The website offers some pretty cool features. There's a commute calculator, tips for commuters on staying "fresh" after biking or walking to work, and information for employers on telecommuting and tax breaks for companies that provide group transport for their emplyees.
"Living in a metropolis such as Houston there are so many alternatives available for residents," said Shelley Whitworth, Air Quality Program Manager at H-GAC. "Finding a solution that works is a great thing to have in your back pocket, whether it's something you do every day to commute, or simply something in case gas prices soar or your car needs to go into the shop."
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HGAC is asking Houstonians to consider three things in their pledge:
1. Congestion is a huge problem in Houston. 2. Houston's less-than-stellar air quality 3. Quality of life -- stress, health and money issues.
"Finding a commute alternative that works not only means less air pollution and roadway congestion, it also means more money in our area residents' pockets," Whitworth said.
H-GAC is hosting two grass-roots events this month where people can pledge on-site and register for prizes including t-shirts and gift cards from various sponsors, including Chuy's, Cafe Express and Jamba Juice. The first will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the City Hall Farmer's Market on Sept. 25. The second will be at Disco Green from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Sept. 26.