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Week of February 15, 2010

Only in the Record: Ride alternative

GreenRide ride-sharing program gains participants 


Ride-sharing may be daunting for some, but not for the Crazy Ladies Carpool.

“We talk and laugh non-stop all the way to and from work. It’s wonderful,” says Rebecca Sitz, administrative assistant with Pharmacy Services at University Hospital. Her fellow Milan-area riders coined the name.

U-M employees Rebecca Sitz and Dawn Russell say GreenRide carpooling is convenient and saves money. Photo by Scott Soderberg, U-M Photo Services.

“I carpool with three other ladies,” she says. “We rotate driving our own vehicles once a month and pay for our own gas the week we drive. I am saving $200 a month in gas by doing this. I highly recommend this to others.”

Jennette Green, a financial consultant in the radiology department, carpools from Manchester. “We just chat it up to and from work, which makes our 45-minute drive just fly by.”

“It’s obviously good for the environment to have less cars burning gas on the roads, but it also saves money,” says David Miller, executive director of Parking and Transportation Services (PTS), which coordinates the university’s carpool/vanpool system, which is supplemented with GreenRide.

The launch of GreenRide in spring 2008 included an offer to carpoolers of a pre-tax parking permit payroll sharing system. GreenRide has spawned 23 new carpools and 16 vanpools, and 3,314 staff and faculty have set-up accounts to look to the system for potential ride matches.

“For my department, the more people who carpool or vanpool, the fewer parking spaces we have to build and maintain,” Miller says. “It also means less traffic on local and regional roads.”

Miller says that while ride-sharing may not be for everyone, those who have traditional working hours and, therefore, are coming and going at the same times, should consider the possibilities.

“People need to think about the full cost of driving a car to work. Sharing a ride even two or three says a week can add up to considerable savings,” he says.

GreenRide is part of an overall strategy to promote alternatives to bringing autos to campus. Information on GreenRide carpools and vanpools is available at the PTS Web site www.pts.umich.edu or by calling 764-1100.

For carpoolers, “We offer payroll deduction for sharing the cost of a single permit between staff members, thus making the financial transaction easy as well as pre-tax,” Miller says. For an added fee, a reserved parking space is offered for carpools with three or more members. “Basically, we are offering financial incentives as the ability to reserve a parking space, if desired.” he says. Full-time employees can join the vanpool program for $25 per month through pre-tax payroll deduction. PTS waives the fee for primary van drivers. Part-time employees also may be eligible for the vanpool program.

PTS has promoted GreenRide through e-mails, the U-M Health System Daily Bulletin and at Planet Blue sessions. “We are currently working with AATA (Ann Arbor Transportation Authority) and SEMCOG (Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments) to link the regional ride matching system with GreenRide to make U-M/non U-M connections more seamless,” Miller says.

Dawn Russell, coordinator assistant in Pediatrics, carpools with Sitz. “The carpool allows much flexibility. If you are unable to drive when you are scheduled, everyone is very flexible trading a day or two or even a week if needed,” she says.

“Another positive aspect of our rides is we all hold similar jobs at the university, and our carpooling enables us to exchange many ideas, tips and contact names for different aspects of our jobs,” Russell adds.

“I’m so happy I did this,” Sitz says. “I not only save money on gas and wear and tear on my vehicle, I have made three new friends.”

Grant Winston, PTS associate director, says PTS also is hosting Zimride, an electronic rideboard service launched last year by a private company. Service users can sign up for single rides or longer-term carpools, if available. Zimride users have the opportunity to learn about their fellow riders through a Facebook application.

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

Jeanne Mackey, senior performance support analyst, Information and Technology Services, on environmental activism: “What I love about the Transition Towns approach to a low-energy future is that it draws on our hopes more than our fears.”

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