NYSDOT Recognizes Staten Island Commuterlink Award Winners: Upcoming Ridesharing Initiatives Also Unveiled

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Regional Director Douglas A. Currey was joined today by state and city elected officials at a ceremony at The City University of New York (CUNY) College of Staten Island to recognize local winners of the Regional Commuter Choice Awards. College of Staten Island/CUNY and Staten Island University Hospital, both Staten Island employers, received the awards.

The Regional Commuter Choice Awards are presented annually by CommuterLink, a non-profit ridesharing service, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) to recognize the efforts of New York City employers in reducing single-occupant vehicle commuting to work.

“We’re excited to be here today to recognize our two Staten Island recipients of the Regional Commuter Choice Awards,” said Director Currey. “CommuterLink serves a vital and growing need–the need for commuting alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle. Employees at the College of Staten Island and Staten Island University Hospital have seen the benefits that CommuterLink offers in reduced time, cost, and stress in their daily commutes, and we hope other New York City employers will follow their stellar examples.”

Director Currey was joined at today’s event by State Senator Andrew Lanza, State Assembly Members Michael Cusick, Matthew Titone, and Lou Tobacco, and New York City Council Members Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo. “The commuters of the College of Staten Island and Staten Island University Hospital have set great examples for the region by using CommuterLink,” said Senator Lanza. “All Staten Islanders thank those that have used CommuterLink, which has lead to a reduction in traffic and a cleaner environment.”

“Commuting woes hit Staten Islanders hard, affecting both their wallets and quality of life,” said Assemblyman Cusick. “Hopefully the efforts of CommuterLink and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council and the leadership of the College of Staten Island and Staten Island University Hospital will encourage others to explore alternatives to traditional commuting.”

“The recent outrageous increase in gasoline prices highlights the need for innovative commuter alternatives, and I applaud the College of Staten Island and Staten Island University Hospital for improving the quality of life in our borough by reducing single-occupant commuting by their employees,” said Assemblyman Titone.

“I am proud to see just how resilient Staten Islanders can be,” said Councilman Ignizio. “I am glad to see these organizations leading the way and proud to recognize them for their efforts.”

“Last year’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge debacle demonstrated that we simply have to do more to encourage Staten Islanders to get out of their single-occupancy vehicles on their commutes to work,” said Councilman Oddo. “CommuterLink is an excellent program that recognizes that some people simply will not utilize public transportation options; many times because viable mass transit options are simply not available for Staten Islanders. I join State DOT and my colleagues in urging Staten Islanders to utilize CommuterLink for additional commuting options. I would also like to thank CSI and Staten Island University Hospital for their leadership with this important issue.”

Representing CUNY College of Staten Island at the event was President Tomás D. Morales. President Morales accepted the award for Leadership, which recognizes the efforts made by the College in providing effective mass transit alternatives to its 2,100 staff members and nearly 13,000 students. These efforts include improved transit service to campus, car sharing, parking decals for carpoolers, transportation spending accounts, on-campus electric vehicles for staff use and an ongoing commitment to enhance transportation alternatives and funding.

“Receiving this distinguished award would not be possible without the hard work and dedicated vision and leadership of our faculty and staff,” said President Morales. “As an institution of public higher education, we are committed to creating partnerships with our community and undertaking new research initiatives that will benefit the College, Staten Island, and the environment.”

Staten Island University Hospital was represented by Arleen Ryback, Director of Public Affairs. Ms. Ryback accepted an honorable mention award for the work the hospital has done to improve commutes for its 5,700 employees. This includes offering transportation spending accounts, parking, and amenities for bicycle riders and commuter information fairs.

NYSDOT also announced the upcoming introduction of two new CommuterLink services. The first is a subsidized vanpool program that will match commuters into seven-, 12-, and 15-seat vans provided by CommuterLink. Vanpool users will pay for gas, tolls, and any necessary parking fees, while CommuterLink will provide and maintain the vehicles.

The second initiative will offer prize drawings for people who register on the CommuterLink Website and use alternative commute modes. Alternative modes include carpools, vanpools, transit, bicycling, and walking. Registrants will log onto the Website and mark their alternative commute choices on a personal calendar, earning points toward the prize drawings. Drawings will be held monthly and quarterly, and prizes offered will include monthly MetroCards for use on subway, bus, or express bus rides.

Both new services will be available in October by logging onto www.commuterlink.com or by calling 1.866.NYCOMMUTE.

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