BWI commuter center changes mission, name

April 15, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

Directors of a transportation center near Baltimore-Washington International Airport have expanded their mission and changed their name to reflect that.

After eight years of fighting traffic congestion around the airport, the Greater BWI Commuter Transportation Center is planning to promote the BWI business hub, under the name BWI Business Partnership Inc.

The public-private partnership plans to work with county and state economic development officials, who work directly with business prospects, said Neil M. Shpritz, executive director since January.

"The BWI area as a niche is just waiting to be developed," he said. "Nobody is just leaning in on this area in terms of marketing."

Not that the organization will stop making car-pool matches, lobbying for improved mass transit and running a new Guaranteed Ride Home program, he said. But it also will become source of information for companies considering moving to the area. The center will tailor its research to meet the needs of a few, yet-to-be-determined key industries, he added.

Mr. Shpritz, former vice president of the Greater Tucson (Ariz.) Economic Council, considers the center's expanded scope a natural progression.

"There's nothing more important than transportation infrastructure to somebody considering a new location," he said.

Mr. Shpritz said he plans to market the hub as a prime spot between Washington and Baltimore with a wealth of office space, transportation options and labor.

The center also plans to help companies meet clean-air goals by promoting mass transit and ride sharing and reducing the number of cars being driven to office buildings in the area.

The center is to help companies develop plans to meet those goals.

The plans include offering the best parking spaces to ride-sharing commuters, subsidizing shuttles to link trains or buses to work sites, allowing employees to work from home or offering more flexible schedules.

One of the center's programs, the year-old Guaranteed Ride Home, is expected to increase the proportion of commuters who use mass transit or ride sharing beyond the current 13 percent, Mr. Shpritz said.

Guaranteed Ride Home promises ride-sharing employees a free taxi or rental car to ride home when emergencies arise, or they need to work overtime.

Similar services have developed across the country as government and private officials attempt to combat air pollution and gridlock.

Since its inception, 800 employees who work for companies that pay dues to the center have registered for Guaranteed Ride Home. Employees have called for emergency rides 300 times.

The center is reviewing how significant the service has become in encouraging employees to stop driving to work alone.

About 110,000 employees work at companies in the BWI hub, bordered by the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Hammonds Ferry Road, Route 32 and the beltway in Anne Arundel County.

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