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COUNTYWIDE : County Commuters Asked Not to Drive

Commuters in Ventura County are being asked to leave their cars at home today in observance of California Rideshare Week, a statewide campaign to educate motorists on alternatives to driving alone.

Transportation Commission spokesman Chris Stephens said about 360,000 residents commute in the county, but less than 30,000 use car-pools or other energy-saving forms of transportation.

And since about 60% of the visible smog is produced by vehicle emissions, ride-sharing, coupled with bike riding and busing, could lessen pollution significantly, officials said.

A law requiring employers of more than 100 people to reduce the number of car trips to work has prompted many companies to implement ride-share programs.

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Under Rule 210, companies must have four employees on the job for every three cars in the parking lot, Stephens said. If they don’t comply with the rule, they could be fined up to $25,000 a day, Stephens said.

Commuter Transportation Services spokesman Peter Hidalgo said more than 100,000 commuters in Southern California are expected to participate in the event, which could eliminate nearly 66,000 pounds of air pollution and save about 80,000 gallons of gas.

Commuter Transportation Services is a nonprofit company that serves as commuter management consultant to public agencies.

During Rideshare Week, which began Monday and runs through Friday, several companies will hold events promoting ride-sharing and alternate forms of transportation.

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Employees from about 10 companies will be bused today to the Exxon Corp. building, 225 W. Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks, for a noontime event promoting alternative transportation.

A spokeswoman for Amgen Inc. in Newbury Park said her company is implementing a plan to bus employees to work on a regular basis.

“We’re also encouraging walking and biking,” said employee transportation coordinator Marcia Brandt.

Also today, companies and their employees will take time out from work to meet at First Interstate Bank on Surveyor Avenue in Simi Valley. There, employees will get a free lunch and learn about car-pooling, officials said.

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