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Beginning July 5, Vanderbilt employees can ride Metro Transit buses to work free of charge. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Two services help staff, faculty save time, gas

BY: PAUL GOVERN

6/25/2004 - It’s truly a sweet deal. Soon employees can save time and gas money just by working at Vanderbilt.

Beginning Monday, July 5, Vanderbilt full-time and part-time employees can ride Metro Transit buses to work and back free of charge.

Just swipe your Vanderbilt employee identification badge when you board the bus and Metro will charge Vanderbilt for the ride.

MTA representatives will be on hand to answer questions June 28-30 in both VUMC cafeterias.

If the bus doesn’t happen to go through your neighborhood, you may find one of Metro Transit’s 18 park-and-ride locations to be convenient.

Here are the advantages:

• When you ride the bus to work, you’ll conserve natural resources, protect the environment and save on gas.

• When you ride, you won’t have to fight rush hour traffic. Crochet instead.

• When you decide to ride the bus every day, you can quit paying Vanderbilt parking fees. Also, your car can be classed as a leisure vehicle for insurance purposes, which can mean substantial reductions in premium costs.

“It’s like a salary increase,” said Assistant Hospital Director Charlotte B. Chaney, who helped bring about the program.

The purpose of the free ride program is to help preserve the campus. “Vanderbilt decided some time back that it would be best not to cover the campus with parking lots and garages,” said VUMC Director of Plant Operations Ken Browning, another who helped bring about the program.

“The free ride to work program is also an opportunity for Vanderbilt to assist the community to reduce air pollution levels,” he said.

This is Metro Transit’s first employer-subsidized fare arrangement, Browning said.

A Metro bus ride normally costs $1.45 for local service and $1.75 for express service.

Each time you board the bus and swipe your card, Vanderbilt will be charged a fee that matches MTA’s calculation of the average fee per ride paid by holders of Metro’s monthly $48 bus pass.

For each employee who decides to ride the bus every day, the University’s cost will match what would otherwise have been spent to subsidize employee parking, Browning said.

The Vanderbilt free-ride program is for getting to work, for returning home after work, and for getting around during meal breaks. Metro Transit will provide regular reports of where and when employees have ridden the bus, allowing Vanderbilt to monitor the program.

For complete schedule and route information, visit the MTA Web site at www.nashvillemta.org.

Vanderbilt Valet to run errands for VUMC employees, students

Between having to work for a living and having to keep a home together, do you find yourself sometimes running around like a chicken with its head cut off?

Help is on the way. VUMC is engaging a company to run personal errands for employees and students free of charge. The service is called Vanderbilt Valet, and it starts July 12.

“This new service is designed to assist employees in balancing work and home life,” said Assistant Hospital Director Rebecca R. Keck.

“Our goal is to provide personal time back to employees,” Chaney said.

Keck and Chaney co-chaired the committee that brought about the service.

To run the errands, VUMC has engaged Chicago-based Errand Solutions. “They’ll pretty much do any errand, as long as it’s not illegal or immoral,” Chaney said.

The most common types of errands the company is used to handling for customers include such things as oil change, dry cleaning and laundry services, car wash, mailing services, film developing, jewelry and shoe repair, gift and ticket ordering, restaurant reservations, and gathering of estimates for various household services.

The service will be paid for by VUMC. Vanderbilt Valet will charge no fees and accept no tips from employees and students. Customers pay only the retail costs of the goods and services requested through Vanderbilt Valet. Errand Solutions will negotiate rates from local businesses for Vanderbilt Valet customers.

Vanderbilt Valet will have two campus locations, in the Medical Center North second-floor lobby and on the second floor of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital inside the entrance from the pedestrian bridge. The MCN location will be staffed from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday. The VCH location will be staffed from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday. VUMC employees and students can also request services anytime over the Web at www.errandsolutions.com, or by calling the service desks at 343-1550 (MCN) or 936-8253 (VCH). When dropping off cars with Vanderbilt Valet, customers will use spaces reserved for the purpose in South Garage.

Vanderbilt Valet representatives will be roving the Medical Center July 12 – 15 to answer questions and register customers. Before handling your errands, Vanderbilt Valet will need to register your name, your VUMC department, and your Vanderbilt phone number and e-mail address. For your convenience, they will also be happy to record your credit card information and your personal preferences regarding various errands. Beginning July 12, employees and students can register at either of the Vanderbilt Valet service desks, or on the Web at www.errandsolutions.com (to register on the Web, use “Vandy” as the location code).

By helping to raise employee satisfaction and lower costs associated with employee turnover, the new service is expected to pay its own way at VUMC, according to Chaney.

Since the first comprehensive survey of VUMC employee satisfaction in 1999, the Medical Center has sought to do more to help employees cope with competing demands of work and home life. Flexible work scheduling, drop-in day care, and adoption benefits are among the programs the Medical Center and the University have instituted in recent years to help employees in this regard.

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