Thursday, October 22, 2009

Share a ride to work; win a prize

Charleston Business Journal Staff Report

Published Oct. 22, 2009

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments has launched a free Internet-based rideshare matching service for commuters.

“Think of it as a dating service for carpoolers,” said Vonie Gilreath, the COG’s mobility manager.

The Federal Transit Administration is funding the program, which also includes the Trident Area Agency on Aging as a partner.

For traveling to work or other events, the new Web site allows individuals to find ridesharing partners to carpool, bicycle, walk or share a taxi or bus ride. The Web site’s prime feature is a carpool-matching program, which allows users to find ridesharing opportunities.

The Greenride system was developed by Ecology & Environment, Inc., of Lancaster, N.Y. Greenride uses map-based technology to manage the ridesharing program. Rideshare matches are based on the user’s home and work location and personal transportation preferences.

Registrants input which days of the week and travel times they need for ride sharing, as well as personal preferences such as riding only with people of the same gender, or non-smokers. The more people that register, the better the chance of finding a rideshare partner.

Raffles and other incentives will be available to encourage participation, according to COG. You can register by going to tridentrideshare.com. For more information, call Gilreath, at 843-529-0400 or e-mail her at vonieg@bcdcog.com.

Common questions about Ridesharing (answered by COG):

If I sign up with Trident Rideshare, how will my privacy be protected? While you provide basic information when you register (name, address, e-mail, and destination) this is all hidden from potential carpool matches. When notified of a possible match, all you see is a first name and last initial. For example, “Based on your home and work location and hours, Steve G is a possible match.” You can choose to generate an e-mail through the Trident Rideshare site suggesting you meet to decide if you want to carpool.

How about my personal safety? We believe safety is paramount. Unless the potential carpool partner is someone you already know from work or your neighborhood, you should always arrange for an initial meeting in a very public place where you feel comfortable: a workplace cafeteria, a fast food restaurant. If you take personal responsibility and use courtesy and common sense, carpool matching is very safe.

Do I have to carpool every day? That’s between you and your carpool partner. Most people are flexible, since carpooling even a couple of days a week saves you money. So if you like to shop after work on Thursdays, or have to leave early on Monday for your son’s monthly visit to the orthodontist, just be courteous and arrange it in advance.

What if I don’t have a car? You can still sign up for Trident Rideshare, and check off under preferences that you cannot be a driver. You may well find a match who’s going your way.

Can employers close this service to include only their employees? Yes, please contact the mobility manager listed above for more information.

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