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Firms to Add Fuel to Rideshare : Conservation: Transportation officials plan contest among businesses to encourage participation in annual car-pooling week, Oct. 1-5.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Don’t drive alone.

That’s the message that state and local transportation officials will be trying to spread during the annual statewide celebration of Rideshare Week in October.

To drive that message home this year, the celebration’s organizers have planned an event that they hope will get business executives across San Diego County to urge their employees to use alternate transportation.

Local organizers hope about 200 San Diego County businesses will participate in “The Great Corporate Ride-Off,” a competition designed to get more commuters to use car-pools or ride bicycles, trains or buses to work.

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For the next two weeks, companies that want to participate in the competition can call 237-POOL to order pledge cards, said Carolyn Wormser, a public information officer for the city.

Then on Oct. 3, the mid-point of the five-day Rideshare Week celebration, each company will turn in pledge cards for all of its employees who have agreed to use something other than personal vehicles to get to work that day, Wormser said.

“It’s a great way for companies to start participating,” said Anne Dash, chairwoman of a city transportation subcommittee, after explaining the competition at a “Corporate Kickoff” ceremony Wednesday.

Companies will be divided by size into four divisions, and the company that turns in the most pledge cards in each division will win a trophy, Dash said.

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Others can participate in the pledge drive, even if their businesses are not involved in the competition, by calling the 237-POOL number, said Gable Beurskens, assistant director of Commuter Computer, a local transportation management organization.

Everyone who makes a pledge will be eligible to win a statewide raffle. Top prizes in the raffle will include free trips to Hawaii and West Germany, Wormser said.

Carl West, deputy district director for the California Department of Transportation, said ride-sharing relieves traffic congestion, reduces air pollution, cuts dependence on foreign oil sources and combats increasing transportation and parking costs.

“Even if we leave our cars at home one day a week, it will make a large difference,” West told about 150 businessmen at the ceremony.

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