The Capital District Transportation Authority has updated its system for matching potential car poolers, hoping to get thousands of vehicles off the road daily.
CDTA Communications Manager Margo Janack said a new Web site, www.iPool2.org, allows commuters to connect with other travelers who are on the same roads each day and interested in sharing the cost of the ride while helping the environment and reducing traffic congestion.
The service details driving, smoking and gender preferences as well as allowing the creation of an individual advertisement aimed at riders.
The Capital District Transportation Committee estimates there are 375,000 daily commuters living within the Capital Region, according to Senior Transportation Planner Deb Stacy.
She said about 80 percent of those commuters drive to work alone three or more times a week, while only 17 percent use some form of ride sharing — either bus or car pools, walking or bicycling.
“Just by taking one vehicle off the road each day, a commuter can save about 43 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and an average of $21 in transportation costs plus $5 in fuel costs,” Stacy said.
The calculations are based on an average of 25 miles each way and AAA’s 42.9 cents per mile cost estimate for operating an average sized car with maintenance, insurance and depreciation included.
So far, about 200 commuters have registered for the new Web-based match system.
Capital Region commuters can visit www.iPool2.org to access the free matching system as well as listings for public transportation.
A commuter car-pool match service has been offered for 20 years, but Janack said the new Web site is much more detailed.
“Before you would see a contact number but no detail. Now you can pinpoint information for a better match before you make contact,” she said. “IPool2 is designed to keep personal information confidential, requiring only a first name, and an e-mail or phone number as contacts for potential matches. A built-in geographic system, like “Google Maps,” instantly identifies and displays a map with potential car-pool matches in user neighborhoods or along designated routes.”
Users can also register for e-mail match alerts if appropriate matches do not come up initially, and it allows employers to promote car pooling among co-workers.
CDTA Chairman David Stackrow said the top reason people say they do not want to participate in a car pool or public transportation ride to work is the fear of being stranded in an emergency.
“IPool2 relieves this worry by offering a Guaranteed Ride Home program to registered users, giving free cab rides in the event of an emergency, such as a family illness or unexpected overtime,” he said. “As the regional mobility leader, it makes sense for us to collaborate on a ride-share program giving commuters without easy bus service access to another low cost option to get to work.”
Janack said bus ridership has tripled this year, mostly because of the high cost of gasoline.
She said although the price of gas has dropped significantly in recent weeks, ridership is still high throughout the region.
“Ridership numbers are unprecedented in 25 years. We expect to reach over 16 million by the end of the fiscal year on March 31. A couple of years ago the number was 12 million,” she said.