Published April 21, 2015
Volume 23, Number 4

Carpools & Vanpools Improve Traffic, Decrease Stress

By Zoe Francis

The rideshare service offered by 511 provides an easy way for Hacienda employees to cut down on traffic by signing up for easy-to-use carpools or vanpools.
511, the Bay Area’s one-stop transportation information site, works closely with Hacienda to make it easy for employees to try carpools or vanpools that meet their needs.
“The goal is to reduce the number of cars going in and out of Hacienda to make commuting a much more pleasurable experience for people who work in and around Hacienda and to reduce commuting costs for people,” Kit Powis, 511’s marketing communications manager, said.
511 staff member Kenny Sadler is assigned to work directly with Hacienda employees and businesses to promote ride sharing and make it easy for people to sign up.
In rideshare lingo, 511 works with businesses on transportation demand management or TDM.
“TDM is essentially finding and maximizing transportation services or alternatives from a variety of sources,” Powis said. “If someone doesn’t have transit close by or limited transit, they can get transit options.”
A key option currently being promoted is ride sharing through carpools or vanpools.
“Ideally, we want to motivate people to share the ride and carpool together and/or form a vanpool together,” he said. “There’s a traditional ride matching service through 511.”
People interested in carpooling or vanpooling can visit 511 online and enter specific information about their commute, such as where they live, where they work and commute hours. The 511 RideMatch Service then matches that person with a compatible carpool or vanpool.
“Vanpools frequently form if you have a larger number of folks who are going to the same destination, like the same company,” Powis said. “They tend to be longer commutes of an hour or more. It tends to be a regular group that has the same commute all the time.”
“A carpool can be more flexible,” he added. “There are typically three or four people. Sometimes it’s always the same driver, but it can also be people who rotate (driving).”
Most people who have never tried carpooling are pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to set up a carpool.
“Carpooling is flexible because you don’t always have to do it every day,” Powis said. “The biggest hurdle is getting (people) to try it. Often times, once people do it, they find that it’s very easy. They can, in fact, get on a similar schedule with other people. People tend to have a little bit of flexibility in their days. Once they realize someone lives close by, they realize they can share a ride.”
Ridesharing gets extra vehicles off the road, easing traffic congestion for everyone.
“There are side benefits you don’t think about,” he noted. “It can definitely improve your quality of life because you’re driving less or spending less time negotiating traffic as a driver. Depending on how your carpool is arranged, you might be driving one or two days a week instead of five days a week.”
That leads to less wear and tear on your car, which saves money, as does driving fewer days per week.
“They can save money because they are sharing the costs,” Powis said. “Only one person is driving, but you may have two or more people in the car. You may have access to carpool lanes, which can save you time, depending on traffic. If you’re crossing bridges, it can definitely save you money on bridge tolls.”
Most people who try ride sharing end up as true converts.
“When we (get feedback), it’s very positive,” Powis said. “People say, ‘Hey, I didn’t realize how easy it was’ or ‘I didn’t think carpooling would work for me, but it really does.’ They make friends in their carpools. People also find it to be a great networking device.”
Visit hacienda.org/form/details/commuter%20support%20511%20regional%20rideshare for more information and to use the 511 rideshare page exclusively for Hacienda.
511 offers rewards for people who track their carpool trips. Information is available at www.ridematch.511.org/SanFrancisco/?client=hacienda.
Contact Kenny Sadler, 511’s rideshare liaison for Hacienda, at sadlerk@rideshare.511.org or 510-273-3644. Learn more about 511 at 511.org.


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