2014 Diamond Awards recognize outstanding efforts of commuter programs throughout the region

The winners of the 2014 Diamond Awards. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro.

The winners of the 2014 Diamond Awards. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro.

The Diamond Awards has announced its annual winners list of Southland companies and individuals who go to extra mile to promote commute alternatives to bust traffic tie-ups. The awards, now in their 16th year, are co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) and recognize the achievements of corporate rideshare programs in the region and their contribution toward decreasing gasoline consumption, air pollution and commuter costs as well as improving mobility. The awards ceremony was held on May 29 at Los Angeles Union Station.

Keep reading after the jump for the the list of winners and the press release from Metro.

In all, 19 rideshare programs and five commuters were recognized for efforts to bring relief to the regional traffic congestion. Among top rideshare programs in Los Angeles County are UCLA Transportation, The Walt Disney Company, University of La Verne, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Cal State LA and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Metro also awarded Outstanding Rideshare Leadership awards to Bonnie Hawley of Saint John’s Health Center and Tawnya Betancourt of First Southwest. The Los Angeles Department of Health Services received the award for Most Improved Average Vehicle Ridership, an indicator of an improved rate of ridesharing at the worksite in the past year.

New this year were the Ambassador awards, which acknowledge commuters for ridesharing and for taking the initiative to promote rideshare alternatives to their peers. Winners are Wesley High of Phelps as Ambassador for Bicycling, Kay Gonzales of LAWA as Ambassador for Transit and Charlie McDaniel of Jones Day as Ambassador for Vanpool.

Top corporate rideshare program honors in Orange County went to Irvine Ranch Water District, Microvention and Oakley.

OCTA awarded an Outstanding Rideshare Leadership award to Ramon Zavala of University of California, Irvine. The Department of Homeland Security received the award for Most Improved Average Vehicle Ridership. The Ambassador Award was presented to Brandon Alvarado for his efforts to promote bicycle commuting.

VCTC awarded an Outstanding Rideshare Leadership award to Jerry Anduja of WellPoint.

Awards for having exceptionally high rideshare rates at worksites in Ventura County went to the City of Thousand Oaks, Wellpoint and California State University Channel Islands. Most improved ridership went to Shoreline Care Center. The Rideshare Ambassador Award was presented to Bill Garner of Oxnard High School for his commitment to go “gasoline free.”

Diamond Award winners attempt to provide solutions to the issues brought up in the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2012 Annual Urban Mobility Report, which noted that traffic congestion continues to plague American cities of all sizes, creating a $121 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy in the form of 5.52 billion lost work hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel.

However, the mobility outlook in Southern California is positive due to corporate ridesharing and other solutions already in place. Among them are the recently opened high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on the northbound I-405 between the I-10 and U.S. 101, numerous other Sepulveda Pass highway and road improvements that will bring congestion relief and Metro ExpressLanes, a program that has converted HOV lanes to high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in segments along the I-110 and I-10 freeways. The rideshare program also includes the improvement of transit services and other alternatives to driving, such as bicycling, and the updating of transit facilities.

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