Mass transit initiatives color Robins green Published Jan. 6, 2012 By Capt. Pamela Stauffer 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- This time of year, sports fans in Georgia are envisioning the colors of their favorite teams - blue, yellow, white or red. Team Robins, however, is helping turn dreams to green. In the first six months of ridership, base personnel participation in the Macon Transit Authority's Busses into Robins Daily grew by 306 percent. At the same time, vanpooling increased 47 percent and carpooling grew 16 percent. Fewer cars into Robins not only reduces traffic and parking concerns, but mean fewer emissions and continuously pushes the base toward meeting its air quality goals. Contributions to the Clean Air Initiative have continued throughout 2011. In December, the Transportation Incentive Programs vanpools accommodated 711 riders; 15.5 percent originating from as far away as Atlanta. "With the impact Robins Air Force Base has on the surrounding communities, we (have a significant impact on) air quality in middle Georgia," said John Pugh, 78th Mission Support Group deputy director. Attainment of air quality standards is a key milestone for Robins. About four years ago, middle Georgia met its ozone standard of .075, deeming the area within attainment. According to a 2011 EPA memorandum, the agency will finalize revisions to the standard in 2014. If non-attainment were to occur, it could mean higher gas prices at the pumps around Robins and could jeopardize growth of private industry tied to Robins. "Since the carpool program's inception, Robins personnel have slashed 3.6 million miles; they saved $1.8 million in fuel and maintenance costs; and they reduced 1,810 tons of pollution," said Heidi Schwingle, Environmental Engineer. "Forming the Clean Air Coalition, establishing anti-idling policies and promoting clean commuting initiatives are definitely steps in the right direction to avoid nonattainment," she said. Carpooling also provides a daily benefit to riders, shortening their walk from the parking lot to the building. Carpoolers have signed up for 23 parking passes around high-occupancy facilities. There is the possibility for expansion if the program proves successful. Editor's note: Please contact John Pugh at 472-1003 for more information on the mass transit initiative, or the Smith Center at 468-0193 to obtain a carpool parking pass.