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Commuter Challenge for Medical School and Hospital

Green commuter bragging rights are at stake, along with three $25 gift cards for the winning team. So far, the medical school is in the lead.

The challenge is to see which organization, either UMass Chan Medical School or UMass Memorial Health Care, will sign up the most people for the NuRide green commuting program and log actual green trips between now and Earth Day (April 22). Joining is easy. Anyone with a valid medical school or UMass Memorial email address is encouraged to use this link and sign up.

“The challenge is on, and I expect the hospital will make this a close race,” said Melissa Santley, the outreach coordinator at MassRIDES, the group at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) that manages the NuRide program.

The NuRide web-based tool tracks greener trips like walking, bike riding, carpooling, taking public transportation or even telecommuting. Any activity that avoids a solo trip in a car earns points that can be redeemed for rewards.

Since the challenge began on February 1, the medical school has added 13 NuRiders and logged 20 green trips, while the clinical system has added five new participants and logged 11 green trips.

Santley has been staffing information tables at both institutions in recent weeks to promote the NuRide program and commuter challenge. The next is scheduled for March 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Sherman Center cafeteria.  The following will be at the Health and Wellness screening on March 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Noonan Family Concourse at the University Campus.

Overall, since the NuRide program launched on campus, 181 people from the medical school have joined and 150 from the UMass Memorial community have signed up. According to NuRide data, as of January 1, 2015 those 331 NuRiders have recorded 6,762 qualifying trips in the past six months. They have driven 52,667 fewer miles alone in cars, and collectively have saved an estimated $29,493 in traveling, or about $90 per person.

“Reducing single car commuting to our campus is one of the most important things we can do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan. “NuRide is a great tool. It’s free and you can build up rewards points quickly, so I  urge  people from both the medical school and clinical system to sign-up.”

The winner of the commuter challenge will be announced on Earth Day 2015 and three NuRide members from the winning institution will be drawn at random to receive a NuRide gift pack and a $25 Amazon gift card.

Through MassRIDES, UMass Memorial or medical school personnel are also eligible for the state’s Emergency Ride Home program (ERH). If you walk, bicycle, carpool, vanpool or take public transportation to work at least twice per week, MassRIDES will reimburse you for a taxi or rental car ride home up to four times per year if you have an emergency. You can learn more and enroll for ERH at (Note that this is a separate sign-up from NuRide, but it only takes a minute.)