New carpooling app aims to streamline the slug line

WASHINGTON — Technology is revamping the outlying suburbs’ famous slug lines, where commuters who need a ride hook up with drivers who want to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has introduced a ride sharing app — CarPoolNow — that aims to better connect both drivers and riders.

Not to be confused with Uber or Lyft, CarPoolNow is free to use and displays routes and estimated pickup times.

“If you have an iPhone or an Android phone and soon to be Blackberry, you’ll be able to do that right then and there,” said Nicholas Ramfos, director of the council’s Commuter Connections group.

The app is a natural progression for the Council of Governments because the regional agency has been helping form car pools for 40 years. In days gone by, the group used big wall maps and push pins and sent letters to link drivers and riders.

The app, available on Apple iTunes and Google Play, works throughout throughout the region, but could be especially useful for one tough commute.

“In particular we’re looking at this for the I-66 corridor for the conversion of HOV 2 to HOV 3, and you want to get that free ride,” Ramfos said.

The app features two icons. One with the image of a person in a car signifies drivers looking for riders, and the other with an image of a person with a hand up is for riders looking for a driver.

Users register with Commuter Connections, download the app then begin carpooling. While the app is focused on the daily commute, it will likely have other applications.

“If you’re doing a late concert or late sporting event, you need that ride home, and so this is a great way of getting people out of the event, out of the gridlock pain of traffic,” said Michael Hemry, president of Media Beef, the developers of the app.

The app could be useful for Metrorail passengers who are facing unusual delays because of intense track work.

“Right now we’re going through SafeTrack and you’re looking for other options,” Ramfos said. “This is another option that would be there.”

Terms of use require users to be at least 18 years old, and the council says any abuse of the service will result in cancellation.

“Safety and security is of utmost importance,” Ramfos said.

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