Although integration is officially complete, Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) continues to provide support throughout this time of transition, particularly when it comes to addressing parking and the flow of traffic on base.
With an increase in patients and wounded warriors, NSAB has been, and continues to work towards maintaining a manageable number of people commuting on and off the installation, said Jeff Miller, NSAB's transportation manager. To help in that regard, it was necessary to implement a parking plan, delegating parking spaces to tenants based on their percentage of staff compared to the overall base population, giving priority to patients, wounded warriors, care providers, emergency services, handicapped, lodging and carpool spaces.
"It's critical that we protect patient and wounded warrior parking. We understand that implementation of the parking plan is a significant change for those who have been notified they will no longer be receiving parking privileges on the installation come Sept. 8; [however], people have adapted quite well," said Miller.
He noted the significant rise in the number of staff signing up for and using public transportation and installation carpool privileges.
"We've received countless calls, emails and office visits requesting information and guidance on signing up for carpools and for Mass Transit, submitting their applications, and assisting with various [alternate] routes that people are looking to identify," he said. "We're pleased with the progress we've made thus far and are happy to see people have made commuting alternative changes that have resulted in an easier commute for everyone, even before the completion of the parking plan."
The base has been promoting commuting alternatives for quite some time, informing staff of the benefits to car or van pooling, bicycling, walking and subscription buses, which service areas throughout the Washington and Baltimore area.
"We've had a program in place for three years, [called] Commuter Solutions," said Ryan Emery, NSAB's transportation coordinator. "We've had significant success with our outreach and education, resulting in an 11 percent reduction in single-occupancy-vehicle commuting over this period of time."
Commuters have also been encouraged to take advantage of public transportation, such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) station, Medical Center, across the street from the South Gate. Fares start at $1.60 and trains run from 5 a.m. to midnight during the week. Department of Defense employees and military members are also eligible for the National Capital Region's (NCR) transit benefits program, affording as much as $230 per month for public transportation costs.
NSAB continues to encourage commuters to find commuting alternatives as new renovations and construction continue on base. In the coming months, there will be a loss of an estimated 600-700 spaces in the "E" lot, due to construction for an additional wounded warrior barracks, Sanctuary Hall, as well as in the "I" lot, for construction to expand the Child Development Center (CDC).
During this time of transition, it's necessary to look at ways to mitigate traffic and parking, Miller said, adding, "The installation continues to pursue offsite parking."
Meanwhile, he said, NSAB is making sure patient and wounded warrior parking is protected by having Security patrol and track patient parking garages, such as the America Garage.
"It's necessary to ensure the appropriate people are parking in the patient parking garages," he said.
To continue providing support, and offering commuter information, Emery will hold a Transit Benefit workshop on Sept. 14 at noon in Building 1, room 1643. He will also conduct weekly carpool information sessions and meetings to demonstrate how staff can sign up for a carpool database. For more information about Commuter Solutions, visit the hospital's intranet or public Web site, or email Emery at ryan.em-erymed.navy.mil.