The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC, Inc.) has secured $393,432 through a combination of cost-shared research agreements from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), and two separate grants from the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Job Access-Reverse Commute (JARC) program over the past two years to advance alternative transportation efforts on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and surrounding neighborhoods.
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is a 120-acre home including Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the University at Buffalo, and nearly 60 private sector companies. More than 12,000 people come to work at the medical campus every day, an increase from 8,500 in 2008. An additional two million square feet of clinical, research and development space has been added in the past few years, with another two million square feet (and 5,000 more employees) slated to come online in the next five years.
This rapid growth has encouraged the BNMC, Inc., the not-for-profit charged with coordinating the sustainable planning, development, and enhancement of the growing urban campus, to get creative with the diverse ways they can encourage people to access the campus.
Some of these efforts include:
• Launching GO BNMC, a campus-wide movement to support smart commuting;
• Forming a transportation management association, a stakeholder group of both Medical Campus and community partners;
• Strengthening partnerships with Buffalo CarShare and BikeShare and GObike Buffalo;
• Conducting a mitigation study helping prioritize complete streets infrastructure projects around the medical campus to make the area more accessible by modes other than cars;
• Forging a continued relationship with the NFTA that has already resulted in route changes and additions to better serve the BNMC population; and
• Collaborating with other businesses and partners off of the Medical Campus, such as the Buffalo Sabres, to develop mutually beneficial transportation options.
• Increasing the number of neighborhood residents employed at BNMC institutions by better informing them of the career and training opportunities available on and around the Medical Campus.
“Creating an accessible destination, including ample parking, for the more than one million annual patients and visitors is our first priority,” according to Bill Smith, director of campus access. “To make this happen, we realized we have to reduce the number of employees driving by themselves to work. It starts with changing behaviors. We were extremely fortunate that NYSERDA came on as a partner early on in this process. They’ve really enabled us to get our initiative off the ground and find additional funding partners to expand our offerings, including the federally-funded Guaranteed Ride Home program we will launch next month.”
At the beginning of 2012, approximately 88 percent of the employees on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus drive to work by themselves. However, surveys have shown that about 75 percent of employees would consider ridesharing and taking public transit if a ride home was guaranteed in an emergency. Another 50 percent of employees said that financial incentives and rewards would help make a difference in changing their commuting behavior.
“The alternative transportation options being offered to Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus employees complement the innovative transportation programs the state is utilizing to reduce the consumption of fossil fuel,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO, NYSERDA. “Governor Cuomo has stressed that public-private partnerships like this one are the cornerstone to creating a more robust economy and a sustainable environment.”
For this incentive program, NYSERDA had partnered with the New York State Department of Transportation.
“By expanding the transportation options available to employees at the Buffalo Niagara Medical campus, we will enhance safety and mobility for thousands of commuters each day and improve their quality of life,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, innovative partnerships like this one are making transportation improvements that have lasting benefits, improving highway safety, encouraging economic growth and protecting air quality and the environment.”
The BNMC, Inc. has set goals to reduce the percentage of employees driving to work by 13 percent over the next five years and up to 25 percent by the year 2030. Since launching the GO BNMC, an online alternative commuter toolkit, in September 2012, more than 360 employees have already signed up. BNMC, Inc. plans on at least doubling this number with a full scale marketing campaign coming this spring.
Providing as many quality transportation options as possible not only begins to help solve the looming employee parking challenge, it also supports the overall BNMC sustainability goal of ensuring employees have the ability to choose greener, healthier, and more affordable options to get to work.
A breakdown of the three grants include:
- Transportation Management Association (TMA) and TDM Toolkit ($120,999 cost-shared research agreement through NYSERDA/NYSDOT ) This is for the establishment and first year activities of a Transportation Management Association (TMA) that works to advance the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies of the BNMC. Members of the TMA include: BNMC, Inc., representatives from the Medical Campus institutions, NYSERDA, NYSDOT, NFTA, GBNRTC, BUDC, GoBike Buffalo and Buffalo Carshare. The TMA works to demonstrate the effectiveness of TDM strategies in reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled, enhancing alternative transportation options, and increasing mobility of the BNMC community. This is done through the development and production of marketing and educational materials and a web-based toolkit (online at www.gobnmc.org) to educate employees on their options, enhancing these transportation options, providing free and reduced NFTA transit passes to incentivize new riders, and free Buffalo CarShare and GoBike memberships.
- Guaranteed Ride Home ($36,253 funded through FTA JARC ) The program will provide employees of the BNMC who do not drive alone to work with a timely and free means of transportation (i.e., taxi rides) in the event of a personal or family emergency, illness or unexpected employment-related delay, such as an unscheduled overtime. This program is designed to promote the use of transit, ridesharing, and alternative modes among BNMC employees by providing a safety net for those who do not drive to work.
- Community Transportation Program ($206,180 funded through FTA JARC and $30,000 in local donations) This program is a collaborative effort between the BNMC, Inc., Buffalo CarShare, and GoBike Buffalo to facilitate and encourage the use of alternative transportation modes and public transit among employees on the BNMC and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, the Program aims to increase the number of neighborhood residents employed at BNMC institutions by better informing them of the career and training opportunities available on and around the Medical Campus. This grant includes funding for a state-of-the art, secure, and dry bicycle storage facility located at the corner of Virginia and Ellicott Streets, designed by local architect Brad Wales and currently under construction.