Published March 16, 2010
Volume 18, Number 3

511 Rideshare: A Commute Calculation That Adds Up  

How much money do you spend commuting to work? How much might you save by sharing a ride? You can find out by using the commute calculator on the 511 Rideshare web site. The calculator not only estimates commuting costs but also vehicle CO2 emissions, so you can see how your commute affects air quality as well.

The customized estimates are based on commute distance, the number of days driving to work, the vehicle MPG, the cost of gas, and parking fees and bridge tolls. The results also include the average cost of maintenance and tires, according to AAA estimates. The calculator displays daily, monthly, and yearly cost figures. It also computes the impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, based on the commute characteristics.

Once you see all these numbers, you can reflect on the advantages of carpooling, and when you are ready to give it a try,  you can use 511 Rideshare to find commuting partners, even if only for one day per week. Supported by a combination of both federal and regional funds, 511 Rideshare is a free web and phone service whose mission is to reduce traffic congestion, clean the air, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. A solo commuter driving 30 miles daily sends about 300 pounds of pollutants into the air each year. Carpools--two to six people driving to work together regularly--and vanpools--seven or more people commuting together-- lighten the load. 

Commuters can register for ridesharing using the secure RideMatch System, available at www.511.org and now at the Hacienda web site as well. Simply visit  www.hacienda.org/services/services_commute_carpool.html. You will see that the ridematching system has been “skinned” with the Hacienda logo and colors, a reflection of the business park’s partnership with the agency and ongoing support of commute options.

“The ‘skinned’ site has the look and feel of Hacienda’s transportation pages,” comments LaShawn Martin of 511.org. “Using a customized web site can make people more comfortable. It is clear that the service is advocated by the business park. It doesn’t feel the same as on a general public site.” 

The interactive, on-demand RideMatch allows users to create a profile and find commuters who have similar travel routes and patterns with whom to share a ride. Registrants have the option of limiting their match results to employees of the same company, or they can expand their search to all regional matches. The entire database currently averages more than 19,000 Bay Area commuters. The system lets potential rideshare partners contact each other by phone or e-mail.

A variety of rewards and incentives are available for car- and vanpools, including access to HOV lanes and bridge toll booths. On the personal level, there are the satisfactions of saving time and money, all while trimming your carbon footprint. It has been shown that carpools and vanpools can reduce the average 30-mile commute by 20 to 30 minutes each way when they take advantage of carpool lanes. To determine your own savings, test-drive the commute calculator at www.rideshare.511.org/calculator/.


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