Transportation initiatives aim to alleviate problems Published Nov. 12, 2010 By Wayne Crenshaw 78 ABW/PA ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- With nearly a thousand new hires expected in the coming months alone, traffic and parking problems at Robins will get worse before getting better, but base officials are doing all they can to smooth the situation. A dedicated gate for high-occupancy vehicles, a "Buses into Robins Daily" bus option from Macon Transit Authority, and a "Round Robins Express" base shuttle from a designated parking area, are the latest incentives. John Pugh, 78th Mission Support Group deputy director, said the closure of Watson Gate for the next two months (see related article) makes these initiatives - and carpool and vanpool incentives such as the Clean Air Program and Transportation Incentive Program -- even more important in the base's efforts to reduce traffic and parking congestion. About the incentives: Starting Nov. 29, Team Robins members who carpool and vanpool will be able to enter the base with little or no waiting through Gate 12, off North Davis Drive. The gate will be opened exclusively for HOVs from 6 to 9 a.m. Vehicles must have three or more occupants, each of whom must have a valid I.D., in order to use this entrance. Also beginning Nov 29, there will be a free base shuttle service program called the "Round Robins Express." It will start from the Air National Guard parking area and will drop workers off at designated stops near major maintenance and support areas. Plans are for the Round Robins Express to run weekdays during morning and afternoon commuting hours - from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 1 to 3:30 p.m. - to help ease traffic and parking congestion in and around high-density areas of the base. Leadership will continually evaluate the program and adjust routes and times as needed, said Pugh. Also starting Nov. 29, the Macon Transit Authority will start running a weekday bus route to Robins - "Buses into Robins Daily" or "BIRD" - from the Macon Centreplex. Initially, there will be three buses, which will pick up passengers beginning at 4:45 a.m. The BIRD bus transportation will cost passengers $6 a day round trip, but it is 100 percent reimbursable for military members and civilian employees enrolled in the Transportation Incentive Program, or TIP. Early enrollment is encouraged to minimize any upfront out of pocket expenses. Once enrolled and approved by TIP, riding the BIRD is free. The Clean Air Campaign helps commuters find carpool partners through an online registry at www.logyourcommute.org. Robins employees can go participate in the program by visiting the website, putting in their information, and finding people who live near them and have similar working hours. Heidi Schwingle, air quality program manager here, said there are many good reasons for people to consider carpooling, which are in addition to the Clean Air Campaign's goal of reducing air pollution. Participants can save money on gas and car maintenance while reducing stress by sharing the driving duties. Clean Air Campaign participants can also enter drawings for prizes by logging their commutes. People who walk or bicycle to work are also eligible to participate. The Transportation Incentive Program is open to most base employees. Active-duty military and civilians are eligible to participate as drivers or as passengers, but drivers must have a six-passenger vehicle. Passengers receive up to several hundred dollars each month, which is paid to the driver. The program can potentially save a participant thousands of dollars during the year. For more information or to sign up for the TIP, call 926-7199. These initiatives will benefit employees, the base, and our community, said Pugh. Allowing HOVs to enter a dedicated gate will reduce delays getting onto the installation; riding to work induces less stress than driving; and commuting reduces the miles driven to and from work daily, which helps employees save on insurance for personal vehicles, as well as reduced maintenance and fuel costs. The initiatives will also help Team Robins be a good community partner in our efforts for cleaner air. A recent survey has shown about 27,000 people enter Robins each day, including employees, contractors and visitors, said Pugh. These initiatives by Col. Carl Buhler, installation commander, will help address our current and future needs for parking and congestion on the base, he said.