Carpooling and Vanpooling


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 23 April 2018

This chapter describes “Ridesharing,” which refers to carpooling and vanpooling. Rideshare programs include ridematching services (which help travelers find travel partners), and rideshare encouragement incentives.




Ridesharing refers to carpooling and vanpooling, in which a vehicle carries additional passengers when making a trip, with minimal additional mileage. Dynamic ridesharing refers to apps and services that match travellers for individual trips. This does not include chauffeured trips in which a driver makes a special trip to carry a passenger, or commercial ridehailing services such as Uber and Lyft.


Carpooling generally uses participants’ own automobiles. Vanpooling generally uses rented vans (often supplied by employers, non-profit organizations or government agencies). Most vanpools are self-supporting – operating costs are divided among members. Vanpooling is particularly suitable for longer commutes (10 miles or more each way). Ridesharing has minimal incremental costs because it makes use of vehicle seats that would otherwise be unoccupied. It tends to have lower costs per vehicle-mile than public transit because it does not require a paid driver and avoids empty backhauls.


Table 1            Comparing Travel Modes                                       



Vehicle Ownership

Vehicle Size

User Schedule Flexibility

Conventional Public Transit









Some flexibility



Group Rental













Different modes have different attributes. Modes with paid drivers tend to have relatively high operating costs. Vanpooling and carpooling have low cost per passenger-mile, but are only suitable for prescheduled trips, such as commuting.



Ridesharing is one of the most common and cost effective alternative modes, particularly in areas that are not well served by public transit. Many commuters rideshare part-time, for example, twice a week. Ridematching is a common component of Commute Trip Reduction programs intended to reduce urban traffic problems. Ridesharing is also an important mobility option for non-drivers, particularly in small towns and rural areas, where notices are often posted on bulletin boards and travel needs are shared through informal networks. Transportation Management Associations, transit agencies and community transportation organizations often provide ridematching services.


Ridesharing tends to experience economies of scale: as more people use the service the chances of finding a suitable carpool or vanpool increase significantly. As a result, success depends on promotion programs that encourage a significant portion of potential users to register for possible participation. According to market research by York and Fabricatore (2001), a variety of improvements and incentives can increase Ridesharing:












Rideshare programs typically provide carpool matching, vanpool sponsorship, marketing programs, and incentives to reduce driving. Rideshare incentives may include HOV Priority (e.g., HOV highway lanes), preferential parking spaces, and awards. Some employers offer Commute Financial Incentives such as a cash payment to employees who carpool, or a voucher that covers vanpool fees, provided as an alternative to a free parking space. Because they have significant economies of scale (the more people who register, the more effective they are at successfully matching riders), it is helpful if one well-publicized ridematching program serves an entire geographic region.


Some innovative ridesharing programs have been proposed to encourage motorists to share rides for individual trips, creating a cross between hitchhiking and taxi service. Some involve pre-registering motorists and riders to increase security, and establishing standard reimbursement rates. In a few locations, casual carpooling has developed, in which motorists pick up riders at established stops in order to take advantage of HOV lanes. Dynamic ridesharing means that an independent organization matches passengers with drivers for individual trips (as opposed to regularly scheduled trips), using telephone and computer technologies (SST, 1997). King County Metro has incorporated special event ridematching into its regional rideshare program (www.rideshareonline.com).



How It Is Implemented

Rideshare programs can be implemented by an individual employer as part of a Commute Trip Reduction program, by a Transportation Management Association or a Campus Trip Management program, a transit agency, or by a regional transportation agency. Marketing can inform potential ridesharers about the service. Vanpooling requires more organizational structure to address vehicle ownership, expense recovery and liability issues. Taxi Improvements can include regulatory changes that allow shared taxi ridesharing.


Larger ridematching programs use computerized partner matching systems that take into account each commuter’s origin, destination, schedule, and special needs. Smaller programs may simply match potential partners by hand, or use ride notice boards.



Travel Impacts

Vanpooling tends to be most common for longer (more than 10-mile) commutes. Ridesharing programs typically attract 5-15% of commute trips if they offer only information and encouragement, and 10-30% if they also offer incentives such as HOV Priority and Parking Cash Out, and 5-20% of workers rideshare at many worksties (Evans and Pratt 2005). Ewing (1993) concludes that ridesharing programs can reduce daily vehicle commute trips to specific worksites by 5-15%, and up to 20% or more if implemented with Parking Pricing.


Concas, Winters and Wambalaba (2005) find the elasticity of vanpool ridership with respect to fees ranges from -2.6% to -14.8%, so a one dollar decrease (increase) in vanpool fares is associated with a 2.6% to 14.8% increase (decrease) in the predicted odds of choosing vanpool rather than driving alone. The same study found that the elasticity of vanpooling with respect to price to be -0.61 to -1.34, meaning that for each 10% increase (decrease) in vanpool price, there is a 6% to 13% decrease (increase) in vanpool choice with respect to auto. Another study estimated the price elasticity of vanpooling at about 1.5, meaning that a 10% reduction in vanpool fares increases ridership by about 15% (York and Fabricatore, 2001). For example, if vanpool fares that are currently $50 per month are reduced to $40 (a 20% reduction), ridership is likely to increase by about 30% (20% x 1.5). Of course, exact impacts will vary depending on the specific market and whether other ridesharing incentives are also provided.


Because rideshare passengers tend to have relatively long commutes, mileage reductions can be relatively large. For example, if ridesharing reduces 5% of commute trips it may reduce 10% of vehicle miles because the trips that are reduced are twice as long as average. Rideshare programs can typically reduce up to 8.3% of commute VMT, up to 3.6% of total regional VMT, and up to 1.8% of regional vehicle trips (TDM Resource Center 1996). See Trip Reduction Tables for more information on the travel reductions that are predicted to occur from financial incentives for ridesharing under various circumstances.


Critics argue that rideshare programs are ineffective because, for many years, vehicle occupancy rates declined (Orski 2001), but their analysis only considered overall trends and ignored the much higher vehicle occupancy rates among employees who have comprehensive rideshare programs, particularly if they include both financial incentives and HOV Priority highway lanes.


Table 2            Travel Impact Summary

Travel Impact



Reduces total traffic.


Reduces vehicle travel.

Reduces peak period traffic.


Effective at reducing commute auto trips.

Shifts peak to off-peak periods.



Shifts automobile travel to alternative modes.



Improves access, reduces the need for travel.


May encourage sprawl.

Increased ridesharing.



Increased public transit.



Increased cycling.



Increased walking.



Increased Telework.



Reduced freight traffic.



Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.



Benefits And Costs

Ridesharing can reduce peak-period vehicle trips and increase commuters travel choices. It reduces congestion, road and parking facility costs, crash risk and pollution emissions. Ridesharing tends to have the lowest cost per passenger-mile of any motorized mode of transportation, since it makes use of a vehicle seat that would otherwise be empty. Ridesharing provides consumer financial savings (as estimated in the table below), and time savings if there are HOV Priority facilities. Crash risk declines due to fewer vehicles on the road (TDM Safety Benefits). Rideshare programs improve Transportation Options, and are particularly helpful to commuters who cannot drive or lack a reliable automobile. The SMART Trip Reduction Manual published by Pollution Probe (2001) provides information on calculating the benefits of ridesharing to employers and employees.


Table 3            Estimated Monthly Commuting Costs (2011 dollars)

Round Trip Miles

Drive Alone

3-Rider Car Pool

10-Rider Van Pool



























Vanpooling is one of the most resource efficient and cost effective motorized modes, and so can provide significant net benefits (Evans and Pratt, 2005). Wambalaba, Concas and Chavarria (2004) summarize average operating costs, revenues, subsidies and ridership for various transit agencies, indicating that a typical vanpool van costs $1,000 to $1,250 per month to operate.


Rideshare program costs consist primarily of administration expenses. One ridematch system pilot project was estimated to incur $150,000 in setup and marketing expenses, and an average about $3 per user (i.e., per phone call received) in operating costs (Guiliano, Hall and Golob 1995). Costs to participants may include additional travel and time needed to meet rideshare partners, schedule constraints needed to match commuting times, loss of privacy, and restrictions on stops for errands.


Ridesharing may encourage urban sprawl by making longer-distance commutes more Affordable. Transit agencies sometimes consider rideshare as competition that reduces transit ridership. For this reason it is important to track the travel alternative that rideshare passengers would otherwise use.


Table 4            Benefit Summary




Congestion Reduction


Reduces peak-period automobile travel.

Road & Parking Savings


Reduces peak-period automobile travel.

Consumer Savings


Provides consumer savings.

Transport Choice


Increases travel choice.

Road Safety


Reduces vehicle mileage, but increases vehicle occupancy, so crashes that do occur may have more casualties.

Environmental Protection


Reduces automobile travel.

Efficient Land Use


May encourage longer-distance commutes and urban sprawl.

Community Livability


Reduces automobile trips.

Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.



Equity Impacts

Rideshare matching services are usually open to anyone in a particular geographic area. Ridesharing services are mostly self-supporting or receive a small subsidy, usually for administrative and marketing activities. Most rideshare program subsidies are modest, usually smaller than the social cost of accommodating automobile travel. For example, if a ridematching service is effective at reducing just a few percent of automobile trips, its expenses can be paid through reduced road and parking facility costs. Rideshare programs generally increase vertical equity by improving Transportation Options for non-drivers and making commuting more Affordable.


Table 5            Equity Summary




Treats everybody equally.


Rideshare services are generally available to anybody.

Individuals bear the costs they impose.


Most rideshare travel is self-supporting. Although ridematching services require subsides, these are usually less than the social costs of automobile travel.

Progressive with respect to income.


Improves travel options for lower-income people.

Benefits transportation disadvantaged.


Improves travel options for non-drivers.

Improves basic mobility.


Improves access to education and employment.

Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.




Rideshare programs can be appropriate in most geographic areas, and tend to be particularly effective at serving relatively dispersed, suburban destinations. They can be implemented by businesses, Transportation Management Associations and other business organizations, local and regional governments. Regional programs are best, because they create a larger pool of potential users than ridematching at a worksite or local level.


Table 6            Application Summary





Large urban region.


Federal government.


High-density, urban.


State/provincial government.


Medium-density, urban/suburban.


Regional government.




Municipal/local government.


Low-density, rural.


Business Associations/TMA.


Commercial center.


Individual business.


Residential neighborhood.




Resort/recreation area.


Neighborhood association.






Ratings range from 0 (not appropriate) to 3 (very appropriate).




Improved Transport Options.



Relationships With Other TDM Strategies

Ridesharing supports and is supported by many other TDM programs, including HOV Priority, Commute Trip Reduction, Parking Management, Commute Financial Incentives, Flextime (which makes it easier for employees to match schedules), Guaranteed Ride Home services, and Pedestrian Improvements at worksites. In some cases ridesharing competes with transit or non-motorized commute modes.




Rideshare programs require support by transportation and sometimes transit agencies, by Transportation Management Associations, or by individual employers. It may involve adoptions of special policies by employees and labor organizations to accommodate and support ridesharing and flextime.



Barriers To Implementation

Rideshare programs require sufficient funding to provide efficient matching services. Effectiveness depends on appropriate incentives: HOV facilities, financial subsidies, parking management, and marketing. Marketing efforts may be needed to inform potential ridesharers about this option.


Wit and Humor

I was hitchhiking the other day and a hearse stopped. I said, “No thanks-I’m not going that far.”



Best Practices

Organizations such as the Association for Commuter Transportation and Commuter Connections can provide advice and resources for developing an effective ridesharing program. York and Fabricatore (2003) identify several ways of improving and increasing vanpooling. Some best practices include:

·         Ridesharing should be implemented as part of a comprehensive TDM Program.

·         Ridesharing programs should include ridematching services, HOV priority, and other Commute Trip Reduction strategies, such as Commute Financial Incentives.

·         Ridematching services should cover a large geographic area (such as an entire region) in order to create the largest possible pool of users.

·         Transportation agencies, businesses and employees should all be involved in planning Rideshare Programs.

·         Provide incentives to attract and retain rideshare users, such as mileage-points and Vehicle Insurance Discounts.



Carpooling Hints (www.CarpoolTool.com)

Here are some helpful tips to get the most out of carpooling


• Determine a route and schedule. Establish the morning pickup point(s) and designate a place(s) to meet for the trip home.


• Be punctual. Decide as a group how long the pool will wait for a passenger. The usual waiting time is 2 to 3 minutes.


• Establish a cost sharing arrangement. If the members of your carpool do not share the driving equally, come to an understanding of how the costs will be shared and agree on payment dates.


• Establish some ground rules. Smoking, music, food, drinks etc. Discuss possible irritants among group, ie, some people may be sensitive to strong perfumes or colognes, some may like quiet time in the morning.


• Draw up a schedule for driving responsibilities. If all members of your carpool alternate driving, decide among yourselves if you want to alternate on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.


• Drive carefully and keep the car clean, in good repair and filled with enough gas for each trip. There should be no excuses for excessive speed, use of alcohol, or reckless maneuvers.


• Set up a line of communication. If a driver is ill, or will not be going to work one day, an alternate driver should be notified to ensure that other members or the carpool will have a ride. If a rider is ill or will not be working, the driver must be contracted as soon as possible. Ensure everyone has a copy of home, work or cell phone numbers. Don't forget to give notice of vacation, personal or overtime plans.


• Avoid side trips on the way home. If it is for commuting to and from work, save your trips to the grocery store for the weekend. Or, you may choose not to carpool on the days you must run an errand.


• Make sure you are covered by your insurance company. Some policies may offer rate reductions for ridesharing.


• Check for preferential, free or reduced-rate parking.


• Give your carpool some time to work. It usually takes a few weeks to arrange everyone's routine into a harmonious pattern. Most carpoolers discover they really enjoy the company of their fellow carpoolers and find it a benefit they had not anticipated.



Case Studies and Examples

Ridehailing Impacts on Vehicle Travel and Emissions

The report, The Effects of Ride Hailing Services on Travel and Associated Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Rodier 2018) used current research to evaluate how ridehailing services are likely to affect travel and pollution emissions. She 



Possible Outcomes


Auto ownership

Reduce auto ownership because ride-hailing allows users to meet their travel needs at a lower cost.


Trip Generation

Increase auto ride-hailing trips by people who cannot drive due to physical and cognitive limitations, no driver's license, no private vehicle, and alcohol consumption.


Mode Choice

Increase auto mode share when ride-hailing has an overall lower time and money costs than transit, carpooling, walk, and bike modes.


Increase transit mode share when ride-hailing bridges the first and last mile gap to rail and bus transit.


Network Travel

Relocation travel (i.e., ride-hailing vehicle travel without passenger to pick up new passenger).


Destination Choice and Land Use

If overall travel time and cost for all modes is reduced to central areas relative to outlying, then demand for travel to central areas and residential and employment space in central areas may be greater.


If overall travel time and cost for all modes is reduced to outlying areas relative to central, then demand for travel to outlying areas and residential and employment space in outlying areas may be greater.


Ridehailing can have a variety of impacts on travel, including some that increase and others that reduce total vehicle travel and emissions.



The results indicate that ride-hailing will tend to produce modest reductions in auto ownership and increase vehicle trip generation, vehicle mode share, and network vehicle travel necessary to pick up new passengers. Overall, these effects would tend to increase VMT and associated GHG emissions. In two case studies they estimate that in San Francisco ridehailing is predicted to increase VMT 6.5% on a typical weekday and 10% on the weekend, and in Austin it increases VMT 8% to 11% for a typical weekday.


To maximize community benefits and minimize costs the researchers recommend that public policies support the use of ride-hailing services for first and last mile service to transit and for disadvantaged populations (low income, disabled, and without vehicles) to access basic services and opportunities, for example, through subsidized fares, and outside denser urban areas, consider restrictions on ride-hailing services or distance-based pricing policies to minimize empty vehicle travel and support transit use. Inside dense city areas, curb-based pricing policies for pick-up and drop-off access may offset lost parking revenues and continued use of transit. Policies should also be considered that encourage ride-hailing drivers to use electric vehicles.



Commute Trip Reduction Rideshare Programs

Evans and Pratt (2005) describe several successful rideshare programs, including the Commuter Transportation Services, which provides ridematching services in Southern California, an employment center ridematching service supported by businesses, a residential ridematching service provided to residents of a suburban community funded by a developer, and various vanpool programs.



Vanpool Marketing Plan (York and David Fabricatore, 2003)

The Puget Sound region has some of the most successful vanpool programs in North America. Vanpooling represents about 2% of total commute trips and 7% of commute trips over 20 miles in length. Several factors contribute to this success: a Commute Trip Reduction law requires large employers in the region to help employees use alternative modes, vanpooling services are provided by transit agencies which insures quality and integrated services; and HOV Priority provides travel time savings for vanpools on some routes. Market research by York and Fabricatore (2001) indicates that this ridership could double or triple if supported by a variety of improvements and incentives:












Metro Vanpooling Program (http://transit.metrokc.gov)

Seattle’s Metro transportation agency provides ridematching services throughout the region and operates dozens of self-financing vanpools. It has more than 1,000 active vanpools. Vanpool programs are a division of transit agencies. About 90% of vanpools are driven to worksites with mandatory commute trip reduction programs, which are required by state law. It is one of the most successful programs in North America, serving 2% of commute trips and 7% of 20-mile-plus commute trips in the region (York and Fabricatore 2003). Below are their instructions for organizing one:

·         You need four other people, in addition to yourself -- or as many as 14 -- to organize a vanpool. The more people, the lower your fare.

·         Once your pool is together, you need to decide on a route, pick-up points and schedule.

·         Choose a primary driver and at least one back-up.

·         Primary drivers, who meet Metro requirements, ride free and may receive 40 free personal miles each month. Additional miles are available to drivers for a low mileage fee.



Community Ridesharing (Kishi and Satoh 2007)

A survey of residents in Naganuma Town, Japan finds relatively high willingness to provide rides to senior non-drivers in areas not served by public transit, particularly if drivers are financially compensated. Concerns about accident risk liability is a deterrent.



Carpool Program Incentives and Rules

Below are examples of carpool program incentives and regulations, based on a survey of Rideshare program managers:

·             Rideshare users get free and preferred parking facilities (e.g., closer to buildings and weather protected).

·             Carpools register online. Each carpool member is identified along with their vehicular information.

·             Each carpool group is assigned a carpool number and is issued one hangtag for the group. Each hangtag is coded. This hangtag must be displayed on the vehicle used by the carpool that particular day. Use of the carpool parking spaces is restricted to only those days that the occupants carpool.

·             Underground, weather-protected, carpool parking garage doors are coded to allow entry only by registered carpoolers.

·             Vehicles are monitored on a regular basis for adherence to the carpool parking policy indicating that vehicles must display a valid hangtag. Those vehicles parked in carpool parking without a valid hangtag or with a deactivated hangtag are given a warning or are issued a City ticket (presently at $50 for unauthorized parking).

·             Vehicles are randomly visually monitored for a minimum two person occupancy. Visual monitoring is followed up by personal contact, where warranted.

·             Each year a full audit (again online) is undertaken whereby each carpool member must validate that they are carpooling and are in the registered group.

·             The University in Melbourne uses a boom-gate whereby carpoolers need to swipe each of their individual ID cards for the boom gate to open.

·             The Bay Area Rapid Transit system offers dedicated parking spaces to carpoolers who register and obtain a permit

·             Metro King County (greater Seattle) has a program called “Park and Shop” where commuters could park at underused parking lots at supermarkets, etc. in exchange for spending a certain amount of money at that store/shopping area. Proof of frequent shopping was provided by a punch card displayed in the car. 

·             Carpool members sign an agreement that they will follow the rules of the program. The agreement states that they will carpool no less than 3 days per week. Special parking permits hang from the rearview mirror and look different from the other standard issue parking permits, with a different color and shape, and a carpool permit number. 

·             Carpool parking spaces are located near building entrances, with “Carpool permit only” signs. This serves two purposes; it gives positive visibility and also is a marketing tool for people to join the program, and it allows for policing of the parking spaces.



Rideshare Online (www.RideshareOnline.com

RideShare Online is the first self-serve, regional public Internet ridematching service in the nation. RideshareOnline.com instantly matches commuters with carpool or vanpool partners with a similar daily commute in nine Puget Sound area counties, including King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Thurston, Island, Mason, Skagit and Whatcom counties.


"This new service puts the power into the hands of commuters," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "Instead of sending in applications and information and waiting for a reply, you can go online anytime day or night to find names in our database of 9,000 registered commuters, e-mail them directly yourself, and within minutes you could be hearing back from a potential rideshare partner."


Online registration is simple. After typing in their e-mail address and choosing a password, users enter their work location and the starting point of their commute -- either a home address or a nearby intersection. To preserve privacy, home addresses are not displayed publicly. They enter their weekly work schedule and any daily variations. By return e-mail they receive a confirmation code to complete their registration. They can instantly see a list of rideshare matches to whom they may e-mail a rideshare request.



RideQuest (www.ridequest.com)

RideQuest is a ridematching Internet site provided by the Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association. Users enter a street address or intersection, and the software produces a map showing that location. If the location is correct, it is entered into the database along with information on the users travel needs and preferences. They can send an automatic email to other registered commuters who may be able to rideshare.



Los Angles SmartTraveler (www.path.berkeley.edu)

This test was a public/private partnership between the California Department of Transportation, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the State of California Health and Welfare Data Center, Commuter Transportation Services, Inc., Pacific Bell and Pacific Bell Information Services, IBM Corporation, and North Communications.


The ridesharing service allows users to obtain lists of potential ride matches via touch-tone telephone. Users must pre-register, which entails giving some personal information, including their usual commute times and preferred pick-up and drop-off locations. Upon request, the system can call the people in the list and deliver a user-recorded message. The ridesharing materials were distributed to 68,000 people.


Users of the Los Angeles SmartTraveler ridesharing service tended to have longer trips to work than the average Los Angeles County commuter, and were less likely to drive alone. Of all users, 18% used alternative modes to get to work about once or twice a week. Users stated that circumstances for which their regular commuting mode was not available are rare, suggesting that demand for occasional carpooling is likely to be low. Other factors that may lower the demand for carpooling are that half of those surveyed said they sometimes work a schedule different from their regular one, and that sometimes their work takes them to places other than their office. About half of all users felt they have access to good transit service. Most felt they needed transit and carpool information, yet at the same time most refused to ride with strangers.



Special Event Ridesharing

King County Metro has incorporated special event ridematching into its regional rideshare program (www.rideshareonline.com). Seattle Center and the University of Washington are helping to promote the service in King County, hoping it will attract more attendees to events at their venues.


To use the service, visit the website and select an event from a list that currently features more than 30 picks. Then, enter some basic information, including your name and home address or a nearby intersection. If others who live near you are also looking for a buddy for that event, their e-mail addresses will pop up. You can even check a map to see who's attending and lives closest to your home. People then e-mail one another privately, screening potential buddies for the right match.


In coming months Metro plans to launch a similar effort organizing rides to private events. In a region where traffic worsens by the year, the ability to go online and find a car pool fast can revolutionize the way people get around, according to Metro Planner Park Woodworth, or helped establish the program. The possibilities are endless, including business meetings, little League games, industry events, weddings. Neighbors on their way to the grocery could even get online to check whether a nearby senior citizen needs a lift, producing social benefits in addition to environmental and cost-saving benefits.



Dynamic Ridematching (www.calccit.org/itsdecision/serv_and_tech/Ridematching/ridematching_summary.html)

Dynamic Ridematching refers to rideshare programs that match riders for individual trips, rather than a series of regularly scheduled trips, and provides information quickly and conveniently to help drivers and riders connect. Below are descriptions of some Dynamic Ridesharing pilot projects.


Los Angeles SmartTraveler

This test was a public/private partnership between the California Department of Transportation, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the State of California Health and Welfare Data Center, Commuter Transportation Services, Inc., Pacific Bell and Pacific Bell Information Services, IBM Corporation, and North Communications. Funding for the field test was provided by the State of California, through the California Advanced Public Transit System Program, and by the Federal Highway Administration, through earthquake relief funds. In addition to ridesharing services, the field test included pre-trip information services.


The ridesharing service allows users to obtain lists of potential ride matches, via touch-tone telephone. Users must pre-register, which entails giving some personal information, including their usual commute times and preferred pick-up and drop-off locations. Upon request, the system can call the people in the list and deliver a user-recorded message. The ridesharing materials were distributed to 68,000 people.


Bellevue Smart Traveler:

The BST project was led by researchers from the University of Washington, in partnership with TransManage and with participation from PacTel. The demonstration phase of the project took place between November 1993 and April 1994. The project was funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation and by the Federal Highway Administration. The main purpose of the Bellevue Smart Traveler (BST) is to facilitate ridesharing (carpooling), but it also provides traffic and transit information. The ridesharing service operates by subscription: once registered, a participant is entitled to offer rides, and to accept rides offered by other subscribers. The system is available via telephones and pagers.


The field test tracked the supply and demand for rides over a five-month period. Test participants were selected based on their residence location (all participants worked in the same office complex). Three ridesharing groups were formed, with membership varying from 8 people in the smallest group to 27 people in the largest.


Seattle Smart Traveler (www.its.washington.edu/projects/sst.htm)

The Seattle Smart Traveler (SST) tested a dynamic ridematching system using the Internet and electronic mail (e-mail) at the University of Washington in Seattle. The project was part of the Seattle Wide-Area Information for Travelers (SWIFT), a larger Intelligent Transportation System Field Operational Test conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation, the University of Washington, King County Metro, and five private sector partners, with funding from the Federal Highway Administration. The system was developed and operated at the University of Washington from 1995 to 1997. It was designed to help users form ongoing carpooling arrangements, as well as those interested in offering or obtaining a ride for a single trip. The system was designed by researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering using an Internet interface. This system provided information on trip origins, destinations and travel times. It was available on a 24-hour basis to students, faculty, and staff at the University.


To provide flexibility in the matching of trips, a time range or window was used for both the requested departure and arrival times. A search structure was developed using a series of pull-down menus allowing users to easily identify their desired origins and destinations from a search tree containing four levels of detail. Although the design of the SST was relatively complex, the system was easy for participants to access and use. A potential participant first accessed the Web site by entering either their student or staff identification number or user password. The individual then completed an SST application form, which included their telephone number and e-mail address, but not their home address. The participant could request a trip at the time they registered and on an ongoing basis. Three types of potential matches could be requested. These were regular commute trips, additional regular trips, and occasional trips. A user entered the origin, destination, day of week, departure time, and arrival time for each trip type they would like to check for a rideshare match.



Microsoft CTR and Connector Bus System (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/eastsidenews/2003900596_microsoftbus25e.html)

The Microsoft Corporation has approximately 40 thousand workers (employees and contractors) in 13 million square feet of office space dispersed around the Puget Sound (Seattle, Washington) region, including its 500 acre Redmond campus which contains 94 buildings, with 23 cafes, and various employee services and retail outlets. Employee parking is generally unpriced at these worksites. In order to reduce commuting costs for both employees and their communities, since 1995 Microsoft has implemented an extensive Commute Trip Reduction program that encourages employees to use efficient travel options. This includes the following incentives:



In addition, starting September 2007 Micorsoft began offering its employees free Connector Bus services between residential areas where large numbers of employees live and their major employment centers. Coaches provide premium-quality features such as guaranteed, reclining seats with generous legroom, 110 volt power at each seat, on-board wireless Internet and GPS services. These buses made use of the region’s extensive HOV Priority lanes, making them time competitive with automobile travel. By 2009 this service had:


Ridership increased significantly as fuel prices increased during 2008, indicating that even relatively high-income professionals will respond to financial incentives such as increased fuel, parking and insurance pricing, provided that they have high quality alternatives that save time and increase productivity. Rider surveys have determined that over 60% of Connector riders were former SOV drivers and had not previously commuted by public transit.



Los Angeles Vanpool Program (MTA 2010)

The Metro Vanpool Program was launched May 2007 providing lease and fare incentives to new and existing public vanpools. Eligible vanpools enrolled in the program receive a fare incentive amounting to 25-50% of the vanpool's lease cost or up to $400 per month. In order to be eligible for the program, vanpools must operate their service with vehicles leased from Metro contracted service providers, commute to Los Angeles County employer worksites, be open to any fare paying commuter regardless of employer affiliation (i.e. public), and report specific operating data to Metro. All vanpool operating and expense data are reported to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of Metro's annual National Transit Database (NTD) report. The NTD is the system through which FTA collects uniform data needed by the Secretary of Transportation to administer department programs. The data reported is used to calculate federal grant apportionments to the region.


Table 7            Vanpool Program Performance (www.metro.net/around/vanpool)























































Fred Meyer Vanpools: One-Stop Commuting

When the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River closed for repair in 1997, the Fred Meyers corporation established a vanpool program to help their employees get to work in Portland. The company leases 15-person vans, and pays all expenses (fuel, parking, etc.). Employees organize their own routes, schedules and drivers. There are currently 11 vanpools with 10 riders. The vans pick up riders at a central meeting spot, usually a Park & Ride. Drivers may use the vans for personal errands after work, and vans are available during working hours for business meetings. The program coordinator reports “Vanpoolers have told me they love the program! It relieves their stress. They learn more about the company by riding with people in their departments. They relax before they get home. It’s reduced their [vehicle] insurance rates and cut their commute time in half.”



San Francisco, CA

Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people, or nine percent of total carpoolers, participate in casual carpooling in the San Francisco area. During the morning commute periods, pick-up points are in Oakland near Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations and in Alameda-Contra County near Costa Transit bus stops. These sites serve as loading zones, provide users with a back-up choice if a ride is unavailable, and guarantee users a ride home in the evening. Drop-off points usually are near the Transbay bus terminal in downtown San Francisco, although other destinations are also common. These sites are centrally located and provide passengers with other means to continue their trip if needed. Carpoolers gain the benefit of a 10 to 20 minute timesavings while avoiding a $1.00 toll by using the HOV toll bypass lane; passengers save money. Until recently, there was no market for evening casual carpooling since there were no HOV lanes heading out of San Francisco. In 1999, a 20-mile HOV lane was constructed and, with support from Environmental Defense organizing and securing destination signs in downtown San Francisco, limited evening casual carpooling has begun.




www.carpool.ca is Canada’s fastest growing rideshare program with over 7,000 registered participants in 6 provinces and territories. The program was created by and is managed by Commuter Connections, a BC non-profit organization dedicated to the reduction of single occupancy vehicle use through the implementation and promotion of rideshare programs. Commuter Connections has been delivering rideshare programs across Canada for over 12 years. In addition to performing on-line ridematching, the Carpool.ca application provides carpool/parking management functions, built-in survey features, and a variety of administrative and statistical reports including greenhouse gas savings. The system is fast, secure and user-friendly. Information provided by participants is used for rideshare management purposes only and complies with federal and provincial privacy legislation. Carpool.ca is used by employers, post-secondary institutions, transportation management associations, and regional districts who pay an annual subscription fee. These fees are essential to the long-term support of the program. All subscriptions include promotional materials, marketing support, and database management.



Transit Agency Ridesharing Programs (Murray, et al. 2012)

Public transit agencies can implement ridesharing programs for various reasons including cost-effective service on corridors unsuited to conventional transit, as a feeder service to conventional urban transit, and to generate additional federal funding. There is significant potential for transit agencies to expand support for car- and vanpooling and integrate it with other transportation services and programs.



Washington, DC

Casual carpooling in the Washington, DC area is well organized with approximately 3000 people, or 11% of carpoolers, doing it. Northern Virginia commuters, who want a ride to the Pentagon or Washington DC, stand at specific suburban locations, usually near parking lots or bus stops. Drivers wanting to legally use the HOV lane system pick them up. Destinations are usually announced, except in certain places where drivers stand in queues according to which bridge they want to cross. A similar arrangement is used for the return trip from DC, but rides are harder to find causing some passengers to take transit home in the evenings. Drivers save up to an hour or more on their commute time and commute times may be more reliable; passengers find that casual carpooling is normally faster and more flexible than bus or subway service because of the ease and speed in which a ride is obtained and cheaper because they are not paying fares.



Carpoolworld.com (www.carpoolworld.com

Carpoolworld.com is a world-wide, self-service commuter carpooling system that uses latitude and longitude coordinates for precise automatic carpool matching. Their automated, online trip matcher calculates and ranks proximities to a precision of inches for maximum ride sharing efficiency and ultimate convenience.



References and Resources For More Information


Association for Commuter Transportation (www.actweb.org) is a non-profit organization supporting TDM programs.


Best Workplaces for Commuters (www.bestworkplaces.org) is a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation to recognizes employers that provide outstanding commuter benefits.


Cambridge Systematics (2013), Effects of Travel Reduction and Efficient Driving on Transportation: Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (www.nrel.gov); at www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55635.pdf.


Commuter Choice Program (www.commuterchoice.com) provides various commuter transport management services, including ridesharing support.


Sisinnio Concas, Philip L. Winters and Francis W. Wambalaba (2005), “Fare Pricing Elasticity, Subsidies and the Demand for Vanpool Services,” Transportation Research Record 1924, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), pp. 215-223.


CTA (2009), Rural Transportation, Community Transportation Association (www.ctaa.org);  at http://web1.ctaa.org/webmodules/webarticles/anmviewer.asp?a=19&z=40. Provides information on various programs that provide transportation services in rural areas.


Michael Ennis (2010), Vanpools in the Puget Sound Region: The Case for Expanding Vanpool Programs to Move the Most People for the Least Cost, Washington Policy Center for Transportation (www.washingtonpolicy.org); at www.trpc.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/941.  


John E. Evans and Richard H. Pratt (2005), Vanpools and Buspools; Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes, Chapter 5, TCRP Report 95, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org); at www.nap.edu/download/13845.


Reid Ewing (1993), “TDM, Growth Management, and the Other Four Out of Five Trips,” Transportation Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 343-366.


G. Guiliano, R.W. Hall and J.M Golob (1995), Los Angeles Smart Traveler Field Operational Test Evaluation, PATH Draft Research Report No. D95-35, University of California, Institute of Transportation Studies (www.path.berkeley.edu/~leap/TTM/Ride_Matching), 1995.


Kunihiro Kishi and Keiichi Satoh (2007), “Attitudinal Study on a Reciprocal Community Transport System in Japan,” International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, Vol. 1, No. 3 (www.tandf.co.uk), July-Sept 2007, pp. 161-171.


Michael Kodransky and Gabriel Lewenstein (2014), Connecting Low-Income People to Opportunity with Shared Mobility, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (www.itdp.org) and Living Cities (www.livingcities.org); at www.itdp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Can-Shared-Mobility-Help-Low-Income-People-Access-Opportunity-.pdf.


Jaimyoung Kwon and Pravin Varaiya (2008), “Effectiveness of California’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) System,” Transportation Research C, Vol. 18, pp. 98-115; at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=


Mike Mangan (2018), “The Value of Vanpooling as a Strategic, Cost-effective, and Sustainable Transportation Option,” ITE Journal, Vol. 88, Iss. 2, pp. 36-39; at https://bit.ly/2pxiMTb.


MTA (2010), METRO Vanpool Program Update, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (www.metro.net); at www.metro.net/board/Items/2010/10_October/20101021OPItem13.pdf.


Gail Murray, Mark E. Chase, Eunice Kim and Markie McBrayer (2012), Ridesharing as a Complement to Transit, Synthesis 98, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org); at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_syn_98.pdf.


Kenneth Orski (2001), “Carpool Lanes - An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone,” TR News 214 (Special HOV Issue), Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), May-June 2001, pp. 24-26.


Pollution Probe (2001), SMART Trip Reduction Manual, Pollution Probe (www.pollutionprobe.org).


Weimer Pursell (1943), When You Ride Alone You Ride With Hitler!, World War Two Poster by the US Government Printing Office for the Office of Price Administration, NWDNS-188-PP-42, (www.archives.gov/exhibits/powers_of_persuasion/use_it_up/images_html/images/ride_with_hitler.jpg).


Rideshare.Com (https://online.ride-share.com) connect drivers and riders to work, school and events in British Columbia. 


Rideshare Online (www.rideshareonline.com) provides you an easy way to find others who are interested in sharing their commute in a carpool or vanpool in the Puget Sound area.


Caroline Rodier (2018), The Effects of Ride Hailing Services on Travel and Associated Greenhouse Gas Emissions, A National Center for Sustainable Transportation White Paper, Institute for Transportation Studies, UC Davis (https://ncst.ucdavis.edu); at https://bit.ly/2qTLXja.


Dan Ryan (2015), Vanpools are a Success Story, Seattle Transit Blog (http://seattletransitblog.com); at http://seattletransitblog.com/2015/03/14/vanpools-are-a-success-story.


SlugLines (www.slug-lines.com) provides information on slugging (also called Instant Carpooling or Casual Carpooling), which refers to the practices of highway travelers picking up passengers at the roadside in order to quality to use HOV Priority lanes.


Katherine F. Turnbull, Herbert S. Levinson and Richard H. Pratt (2006), HOV Facilities – Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes, TCRB Report 95, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org); at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_rpt_95c2.pdf.


TDM Resource Center (1996), Transportation Demand Management; A Guide to Including TDM Strategies in Major Investment Studies and in Planning for Other Transportation Projects, Office of Urban Mobility, WSDOT (www.wsdot.wa.gov); at http://1.usa.gov/1RV1rv9.


Francis Wambalaba, Sisinnio Concas and Marlo Chavarria (2004), Price Elasticity of Rideshare: Commuter Fringe Benefits for Vanpools, National Center for Transportation Research, Center for Urban Transportation Research (www.nctr.usf.edu); at www.nctr.usf.edu/pdf/527-14.pdf.


Bryon York and David Fabricatore (2003), Puget Sound Vanpool Market Action Plan, Draft, Office of Urban Mobility, WSDOT (www.wsdot.wa.gov); at www.vtpi.org/VanpoolMAPReport.pdf.

This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.




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