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Rideshare Week encourages commuters to save money, lower emissions

POSTED September 25, 2012 6:26 p.m.

Thinking about going green – and saving money?

That’s what Rideshare Week, scheduled from Oct. 1 to 5, is all about, according to Michael Swearingen, senior regional planner with Commute Connection.

“This is a way to tickle people’s fancies that might be thinking, ‘Jeez, I’m spending a lot of money commuting, how do I find a person to carpool with?’” Swearingen said.

Enter Commute Connection, a regional rideshare agency, serving San Joaquin, Stockton, and Merced counties. The agency offers databases of carpools and vanpools, making it easy to find a ride match, as well as a guaranteed ride home program offering immediate transportation for ridesharers in the event of a medical or family crisis.

If a person who drives a single-occupancy vehicle adds just one passenger, splitting the costs of transportation, the savings can amount to thousands of dollars per year.

“This essentially cuts their travel-related costs in half,” Swearingen said. “If you get a third person it just compounds the savings.”

It’s not just pocketbooks that benefit – it’s the environment. Each person who opts to carpool or vanpool means one fewer car – and one fewer car’s emissions – on the street.

And employers benefit too, Swearingen said. Not only are fewer parking spots taken up by employees’ vehicles, but workers are also more likely to get to work on time.

“When you’re on a fixed schedule, you can’t dilly-dally,” Swearingen said.

Even the myriad benefits of ridesharing aren’t enough to convince some drivers. So for Rideshare Week, Commute Connection is offering a slew of prizes to people who pledge to rideshare.

One individual in each county, chosen at random, will win a new Apple iPad. And two businesses which pledge to participate in each county, one smaller than 100 employees and the other larger, will win five $100 cash gift cards and a Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset.

Those gifts are meant to convince drivers to try ridesharing just once, despite the cost. According to a Caltrans study, 60 percent of commuters who rideshare for the first time during Rideshare Week continue to rideshare at least occasionally afterward.

For more information, or to register for Rideshare Week, visit www.commuteconnection.com.

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