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Alternative Transportation Once a Week: Salt Lake City Employees Take a Clean Air Challenge

by Eli Wire

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It’s January, and while you might be focusing on a fresh start to the New Year, you may have noticed Salt Lake City’s air has been anything but fresh.  It’s something every Salt Lake City resident is familiar with, and whether you call it smog, inversion, pollution, or just plain bad air, each of us can have an impact on our air quality.

Here at Salt Lake City Corp, we’re doing everything we can to clear the air. One of those is an employee alternative transportation challenge! This month, we’re asking all 3,000 of Salt Lake City’s employees to take part by picking at least one day per week to get to work without driving alone in their vehicles.  

The City makes this easy by providing full-time employees with transit passes. “Alternative transportation” also means biking or walking to work; finding a carpool buddy; or telecommuting.

The Challenge also extends to other clean air actions through our sustainability platform called Empower SLC, which was designed and is powered by Sustain3.

Here’s how the Clean Air Challenge works:

First, employees learn facts about air quality, called Learn and Earns.  Next, employees are quizzed on their knowledge and have the opportunity to ask questions.  Finally, employees act on what they learn by changing their behavior to reduce emissions.

Participation earns points that can lead to a sustainability certificate endorsed by the Mayor.

However, the benefits of contributing to the challenge are many-fold and long lasting. By tracking their actions and impacts, employees have reported not only a decrease in emissions but an increase in happiness as they try out alternative transportation:

“I started working for Salt Lake City in June, and I didn’t know how much I would enjoy riding TRAX. I don’t have to deal with the stress of rush hour traffic, I have made some great friends, and I actually have time to read the book club book each month. I love mass transit!”

“It’s been surprisingly fun to take the bus so far. It does increase my commuting time, but I can read more and feel more educated when getting to work!” 

I started riding public transportation 2 years (ago) for economic & environmental reasons. I have found my experience to be very enjoyable and fulfilling.”

“Since the SLC GreenBikes are available year-round now, I’m learning that for most days in the winter (so far in January) you really can bike to work – even on super cold or snowy days.”

“My husband and I have had the opportunity to commute to work this week and it’s been fantastic! I like having a little bit of extra time with him as well having the feeling of making a little bit of a difference to help the community.”


Salt Lake City employees have taken simple steps to make a big difference in Utah’s air quality such as riding transit, carpooling, giving one of SLC GREENBikes a spin, or simply turning down the thermostat a few degrees.

We invite you to join with us to reduce your contribution to the air pollution this winter. Commit to taking alternative transportation one day per week!  

Here are some resources to help:

Special thanks to UCAIR for providing some of the content used by Empower SLC.  We’ll be sharing other UCAIR themes and actions you can take over the course of the winter to help #ClearTheAir!

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