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ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : Rocky Ride-Sharing Road

The first city-mandated ride-sharing program in the region served by the South Coast Air Quality Management District has been getting mixed reviews in Cypress. The battleground is a 6,800-employee business park where large businesses already are under AQMD regulations and small ones face special problems complying.

Ride-sharing is a praiseworthy concept, with important implications for easing traffic congestion. However, the Cypress experience shows the difficulty of imposing municipal requirements on businesses that vary greatly in size and work hours. While ride-sharing deserves support because it can help get cars off the road, the report card from Cypress is that such programs must be workable and fair.

It all began last summer when the city took advantage of an AQMD regulation that allowed local governments to regulate ride-sharing. It required businesses to work toward an average ridership of 1.5 people per vehicle, just as district regulations do. But the city of Cypress went the district rules one better by requiring businesses with fewer than 100 employees to have a ride-sharing program. That affects 199 of 212 tenants in the Cypress Business Park.

Many were up in arms because they have only a few employees who may come and go at different times of day. They felt it was an unreasonable requirement. You can see how they feel the squeeze when the city still requires every company to pay $20 per employee to join the ride-sharing association or pay a $22.40-per-employee penalty if not. But under Cypress’ municipal ordinance, small businesses have been finding they can’t use the program and large ones already are required to have it in place.

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There are things to recommend the ride-sharing plans envisioned for the business park, but most of the money raised so far has been going for administrative salaries, not programs. City programs like Cypress’ need to devise formulas that take better account of what small businesses reasonably can be expected to do.


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