Carpool Program Seeks to Reduce Traffic on U.S. 36, Improve Air Quality
Early Monday chill couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Audrey DeBarros and Saila Hanninen, who were eager to kickstart Colorado’s first on demand ride-share program at the U.S. 36 and Table Mesa transit station.
They handed out freebies along with fliers announcing Casual Carpool on U.S. 36 to commuters waiting or getting ready to board public transit buses.
“I’ll look into it,” said Dan Mandle of Boulder. He has been commuting daily to Denver for two-and-a-half years, he said. Though the transit bus works for him, it’s good know of other options, Mandle said.
Casual Carpool on U.S. 36 is a pilot program of Louisville-based Commuting Solutions, said DeBarros, executive director of the organization. The program was developed with the help of a federal grant to reduce traffic and improve air quality, she said. An estimated 100,000 vehicles travel daily on U.S. 36, and the great majority of people using the express lanes are solo drivers, she said.
The innovative app-based program matches drivers and riders traveling in the same direction on the busy corridor with the aim to reduce the number of cars on the road, said Hanninen, director of partnerships, Waze Carpool for the Rocky Mountain Region.
The program allows users to connect during peak commuting hours at the pre-determined pickup and drop-off locations along the U.S. 36 corridor.
The app, develped by a Google owned company in Israel, is also being used in Brazil and Israel.
Waze Carpool Mission 2.0 is about reducing congestion and eliminating traffic, Hanninen said. The company’s Waze app provides real-time information to help drivers avoid traffic, but the Waze Carpool goes a step further to help commuters contribute to reducing traffic on the highway, Hanninen said. The app offers users flexibility to schedule rides even on short notice, but they would have better chances to find a rider or driver to fit their schedule if they plan ahead, she said.
The app makes the program dynamic, DeBarros said, adding there’s interest in the program. “But it’ll take time to build a critical mass. We’re talking about a behavior change,” she said. “We do not know how long it will take, but we’re excited about the opportunity to test the pilot program.” The public needs to be educated about the benefits of ditching their cars for collective good, she said. Also, technology makes it easier to share a ride than before, she said.
The program will continue through December and will be evaluated, DeBarros said. She said the goal is to have 1,200 people try carpooling.
Vehicles in the program need to be transporting at least two passengers in addition to the driver and two passengers to qualify for the U.S. 36 Express Lanes. For the first three months of the program, rides costs $1 per trip regardless of the distance. After April, the program will cost 58 cents a mile for riders, the same as the reimbursement rate for drivers.
The meet up locations include U.S. 36 & Table Mesa Station (East Bound); U.S. 36 & Broomfield Station (West Bound); U.S. 36 & Church Ranch Station (Both Sides) and Union Station in Denver (17th & Wynkoop). For any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit the commuting solutions website.
Pratik Joshi: 303-684-5310, email@example.com