Sun Rideshare News | Summer 2017
5 tips to make carpooling work for YOU
Starting a new habit while breaking an old one is tough—except when it isn't
Driving alone every day has far-reaching consequences, from polluting our air to continuing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. The costs are real. Yet you may not feel those costs as much as the reasons you currently aren’t carpooling. Things like having school-age kids, late nights at work or an aversion to making chitchat with strangers are some of them. Here are five practical ways to overcome common hurdles and make carpooling work for you:
- Bend instead of break the habit. There is no rule that says carpoolers must carpool every day, so try doing it once or twice a week. Even part-time carpooling helps.
- Move the carpool starting point. If you can’t find a carpool near your residence, consider finding one located on your route to work that has a nearby place for you to park.
- Shop the rideshare market. Sharing the ride does not involve nuptials, so try a carpool once or twice before committing. It is OK to look for another carpool partner if the first one is not a good match for you.
- Plan around your kids. If you have young kids at school or a daycare, coordinate with other parents who work near you, and let the school or facility be your meeting point.
- Remember carpool does not mean car-full. Got child car seats, work equipment or other stuff in your backseat that you don’t want to move for passengers? Take just a front-seat passenger, and—voila—that’s carpooling.
Sign up at www.SunRideshare.org to help build the carpool matching database and see if you get a match. There’s no obligation, and with a match, you could help reduce congestion, keep our air clean and build your social community. Plus, when you start carpooling or using an alternative mode of transportation, you may be eligible to earn rewards.
The domino effects of driving alone
And how you can do better for yourself and our region
Drive time in Pima County amounts to a rodeo of cars without passengers. About 75 percent of local adults get around that way, driving all by their lonesome. The biggest consequences of riding alone aren’t instant, so the trend persists. Now imagine for a moment if every time you drove to work alone, you had to watch a crop dying, an asthmatic struggling to breathe, a day subtracted from your PTO for respiratory illness, the price of fuel going up, or a pinch of sand removed from the hourglass of your life. These are the real costs of too many solo drivers on the road. They're the results of believing our region's air quality relies on some unseen force. In reality, commuters can lead the charge for clean air, because over half of our region’s human-generated air pollution comes from motor vehicles.
Pima County is home to lots of people with a heightened risk for health complications from polluted air: 185,865 seniors, 74,276 adults diagnosed with asthma; 52,700 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); 492 with lung cancer; and 66,528 with cardiovascular disease.* For them, the cost of air pollution is measured in things such as health complications, medical expenses and lost income from missed work.
These are the kinds of revelations that led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten its national air quality standards for ground-level ozone in 2015. Did you think ozone was that helpful blanket of gas around the planet, destroyed by hairspray and other propellants in the '80s? You’re right, but that’s the so-called “good ozone.” Ground-level ozone, or “bad ozone,” results from chemical reactions between sunlight and emissions from sources such as cars and gasoline vapors, so drivers hold some real sway over how bad it gets.
Of course, it’s easier to think of air pollution as a problem of industries rather than individuals, but the truth is that single-occupancy vehicles play a major role. The math is plain: more commuters sharing the ride means fewer vehicles on the road, and fewer vehicles on the road means less air pollution, especially during summer months when ozone levels can increase as a result of high temperatures combined with other factors. While our region currently meets federal air quality standards, we want to be sure we maintain healthy air. This summer, several air quality advisory alerts about high ozone levels have been issued by the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.
Along with now having about 249 days of “good” air annually based on the EPA's Air Quality Index, on most days we have a 360-degree view to enjoy our mountain ranges in their full splendor, and the economy is strengthening, attracting new residents every year. Of course, with them come more vehicles—or more potential carpooling buddies and more reason to rethink the real costs of how we choose to get around.
Sign up at www.SunRideshare.org to see how carpooling and other transportation options will work for you. If you’re a business owner, consider offering carpool or transit subsidies, offering telecommuting options or bike-to-work incentives. Contact the PAG Travel Reduction Program outreach coordinator, Genine Sullivan, for help getting started.
*Source: American Lung Association, State of the Air, 2017
**Source: EPA Outdoor Air Quality Data, Pima County, 2016
It's always open enrollment time at Sun Rideshare!
Sweeten your benefits package with active-mode commuting perks
Open enrollment season is when employees can make changes to their insurance plans, and it’s a perfect time for companies to offer incentives for active-mode commuting.
Consider a recent five-year study of more than 263,000 individuals that showed cycling commuters had a 52 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40 percent lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had a 46 percent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45 percent lower risk of developing cancer at all. Walkers had a 27 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 36 percent lower risk of dying from it. A healthy staff is a productive staff. Encourage yours to sign up at www.SunRideshare.org and get active.
Commuter spotlight on Miraval
Miravel Resort pioneers an employee vanpool, and everyone wins
Miraval vanpoolers (from left): Marisela Melendrez, Rebecca Garett, Alma Maldanado, Chuy Pantoja, Gabe Tsipai, Priscilla Carabeo, Gilbert Arroyo, Alicia Lopez, Alma Esquival, Gisel Arroyo, Denise Ornelas, and Lacey Brooks
Miraval Resort, which has about 350 employees, is seeing tremendous success with a vanpool it started in the fall of 2016 for its housekeeping staff. The vanpoolers’ commute is approximately 36 miles in each direction, and while some of the riders were previously carpooling, others were making the long haul alone to the resort’s far northwest location.
On top of struggling to pay for car insurance and maintenance, several of the housekeepers were missing work due to car troubles. Absenteeism rates made the vanpool option especially enticing to Miraval management, which now runs the vanpool 24 hours a day, every day of the week with financial support from a subsidy from Pima Association of Governments. Vanpoolers pay to ride using pre-tax dollars, which also reduces their tax burden.
Today at Miraval, absenteeism is down, and savings are up. After the first six months, the riders found they each had saved close to $300 in fuel alone. They also are enjoying savings on auto insurance and repairs. The vanpoolers say it’s fun to spend time together just talking on the commute, and they no longer have to worry about an expensive mechanical breakdown keeping them from work. The icing on the cake? Their own designated parking spot just for the Miraval vanpool.
Interested in learning more about coordinating a vanpool for your staff or with your colleagues? Contact the PAG Travel Reduction Program outreach coordinator, Genine Sullivan.
Earn rewards by participating!
Refer a Friend
Refer a friend to the Sun Rideshare program to be eligible to receive a $25 Walgreens gift card. The more friends you refer, the more chances you have to receive a gift card.
Sun Rideshare Rewards
Log your alt-mode trips monthly at Sun Rideshare Travel Database, and earn one point per trip. Meet the month’s point goal, and you’ll be eligible for our monthly Walgreens gift card drawing. View recent Rideshare Rewards winners here. View recent Mega Users here.
Limit of one reward gift card per person per year.
TRP Employer Awards
For recent Gold, Silver and Bronze employer awards from Pima Association of Governments (for achieving one, two or three Travel Reduction Program goals, respectively), click here.
©Pima Association of Governments | 1 E Broadway Blvd, Suite 401, Tucson, AZ 85701 | Telephone (520) 792-1093, FAX (520) 620-6981