The benefits of ride sharing: Time, money and the end of commuting headaches

Max Smith, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Local transportation leaders want area residents to know that ending the solo drive to work in favor of ride sharing could save them time and money.

“(You) may be able to save $8,000 a year carpooling or using transit,” says Walter Daniel, demand management coordinator for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The region also offers cash incentives for people who use ride sharing to subsidize vanpools and encourage carpools.

“The number one thing is less stress,” Daniel says. “You don’t have to worry about texting while you’re driving. You don’t have to worry about traffic congestion.”

Daniel’s goal is to cut down on the number of trips taken with just one person in the car.

One big reason many people cite for using carpools or slug lines is access to HOV lanes they would not have been able to use if they were alone. The benefits also include free access to the new Beltway Express Lanes.

Local governments are less involved in slugging than in other forms of ride sharing and transit, but there is a relatively new app just for employees at seven locations impacted by BRAC that aims to pair workers with other military personnel heading in the same direction.

WeGoMil includes an automated payment system and is intended to help workers going to or from DHHQ, Fort Belvoir, the National GeoSpatial-Intelligence Agency, Mark Center, Navy Yard, Quantico Marine Base or Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

“It’s like real-time ride sharing for the government,” Daniel says, adding that it seems to be catching on.

The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices. It includes information like photos and the car that a user should be looking for. App users must must have a .mil, .gov or certain .org email address.

The app offers rewards for referring friends and for some of the service’s most frequent users.

It charges $1 for the first mile, 20 cents per mile for the next nine miles and 10 cents per mile after that. Eighty-five percent of the cash goes to the driver, up to $0.55 per mile.

If area residents do carpool, vanpool, bike or take public transportation to work on a regular basis, they are eligible for the Guaranteed Ride Home Program.

“Four times a year, regardless of what time it is, you join the Guaranteed Ride Home Program and you get a free ride home in case of unexpected emergency at home – your kid’s sick or your boss asks you to work late,” Daniel explains.

It is not available during severe weather like snowstorms, but at other times, a person is guaranteed a car will show up within ten minutes after he or she calls. To register for the free program, click here.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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