Gridlock Guy: Despite drop in gas prices, carpooling has increased


Gridlock Guy: Despite drop in gas prices, carpooling has increased

With the precipitous drop in gas prices over the last year you might expect fewer people using commute alternatives. With the cost of the commute falling, there would seem to be less incentive to carpool. According to recently released data by Georgia Commute Options, the opposite is true.

This past November and December, the Georgia Commute Options program saw massive increases in program registrations when compared to the same months in 2014. November registrations increased 84 percent year to year and December enrollment increased 60 percent.

“We’re thrilled to see such high numbers at year’s end,” Phil Peevy, Georgia DOT’s Air Quality and Technical Resource Branch Chief said. “The team has worked hard to make Georgia Commute Options a high-achieving program, and the result is fewer cars on the road and better mobility in metro Atlanta. It’s great to see that hard work rewarded.”

The huge jump in registrations coincided with a financial boost in the Georgia Commute Options “$3 a Day” program. The program which gives commuters three dollars a day to switch from driving alone to taking a commute alternative was increased to five dollars a day in November (with a maximum of $150.) The “Gimme Five” promotion caused a surge in registrations during what is normally a slow holiday period.

Commuters who switch from driving alone to clean commute options such as teleworking, transit, biking, walking and car or van pooling are eligible for the five dollar a day bonus.

Georgia Commute Options also offers other financial incentives to commuters including:

- Commuters who log their “clean trips” are entered into a monthly drawing to win a $25 gift card. One in ten win.

- Carpools with three or more people are able to earn $40-$60 in gas cards each month.

- Clean commuters who refer new vanpoolers can earn a $50 referral bonus.

Perhaps the best incentive offered is the guaranteed ride home. Clean commuters who can’t take their normal ride home due to unforeseen work or family issues or illness, etc, are eligible for up to five free rides home a year by either rental car or taxi. To me, this is a great way to help put commuters minds at ease that might be hesitant to start or join a carpool.

I’ve said for years that one of the best ways for us to reduce traffic in Atlanta is to increase the number of people that either telecommute or carpool. While telecommuting is not an option for many, perhaps car or vanpooling is. According to Georgia Commute Options, the use of commute alternatives, such as transit and carpooling results in 1.1 million vehicle miles not traveled every day. While that is a huge number, it can certainly grow if more people take advantage of of the incentives currently offered.

In 2015 over 7500 people registered with Georgia Commute Options. The higher that number climbs, the better our traffic will be.

Gridlock updatesMark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.

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