From Illinois Business Journal news services
ST. LOUIS – October is National Rideshare month, and RideFinders, the free regional ridematching service, is issuing challenges to area employers to be more socially responsible, make commuting alternatives a priority and increase the number of carpools and vanpools in the region.
These specific, obtainable challenges are said to be mutually beneficial opportunities for employers and employees to save money and reduce air pollution. Companies are being urged to do one or more of the following activities:
– Designate a RideFinders Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) if none exists. More than 900 area companies are registered with RideFinders. ETCs work closely with RideFinders to match commuters and form carpools and vanpools.
– Send an employee e-blast to educate employees about ridesharing options. RideFinders will provide email templates that will inform employees about some of the benefits of rideshare commuting and how to take advantage of the existing programs.
– Invite employees to a Lunch and Learn that will be conducted by RideFinders
– Begin registering carpoolers or increasing the number of registered carpoolers. More than 11,000 commuters are registered with RideFinders. A carpool is two or more commuters who share the ride in their personal vehicles. Carpools can be organized through RideFinders’ free matching service or can be existing to qualify for the program.
All RideFinders carpool commuters are eligible for a Guaranteed Ride Home program that offers each commuter up to four $125 taxi rides home per year in the case of an emergency.
– Form an initial RideFinders vanpool or add a new RideFinders vanpool. RideFinders provides 15-passenger vans, with the monthly fare split equally among the riders based on mileage and number of passengers. Vanpools have a primary driver who travels for free in exchange for submitting a monthly mileage report. Vanpools are eligible for the Guaranteed Ride Home program. Federal employees are eligible to receive a tax-free benefit of up to $130 per month for vanpooling. Many federal employees use this Transportation Incentive Program benefit, and their commute is fully subsidized.
– Establish preferential parking spaces. This is a “no cost” way to recognize and reward carpoolers and vanpoolers. RideFinders will provide free reserved parking signs and/or hang tags. Regional employers who have already adopted preferential parking for carpoolers and vanpoolers include: Alberici, Biomerieux, Christner, Cenveo Color-Art, Covidien, Lewis and Clark Community College (three campuses), Reckitt Benckiser, St. Louis Community College (Meramec and South County campuses), Special School District of St. Louis County, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Southwestern Illinois College (Granite City and Belleville campuses), Trane and Nooter/Ericksen
“Employees value transportation options,” said RideFinders spokesperson SJ Morrison. “Our challenges can be implemented by companies simply, without much time or expense. They have long-term positive benefits for employees, employers and our community”
Morrison points out that RideFinders helps to eliminate roughly 2 million pounds of air pollution annually.
“While this is a positive development, there is still much work to be done, and we are looking for companies to show their community leadership. If you don’t have programs for carpools or vanpools, RideFinders can help set them up. Let’s work together to set new records for carpools and vanpools in our metropolitan area.”
RideFinders operates as a free public ridesharing service, organizing and promoting carpools, vanpools and schoolpools, for employers and commuters working in St. Louis City and St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin Counties in Missouri; and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois.
The organization is operated by Madison County Transit and is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program with support from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
For more information about RideFinders, go to http://www.sharetheridestl.com/