By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJanuary 19, 2012
The Northern Virginia Regional Commission hopes a new smart phone application provides an assist in traffic reduction.
The initiative, "Real-time Ridesharing," is a six-month pilot program designed to match Department of Defense personnel traveling along the Interstate 95/395 and U.S. Route 1 corridors with fellow employees taking similar paths to work.
Avego, a global provider of efficient passenger transportation software, is partnering with the commission by providing an app called Avego Driver which uses GPS, time and other features to make ideal commuting pairings.
"We make it easier for you to share a ride," said Jason Conley, director of government relations for Avego Corp.
The NVRC is recruiting at least 1,000 riders and 500 drivers to participate in the pilot.
The proposed program provides drivers with $25 in gas per month while riders receive five free trips and then pay drivers, for every additional trip, $1 per pick-up and 20 cents per mile.
Real-time Ridesharing is similar to traditional slugging where drivers offer a seat in their vehicles to commuters in order to ride the high occupancy vehicle lane.
Conley said Avego is an efficient way to share a ride as commuters can use their phone to arrange a specific time to meet a driver traveling in the same direction.
"We're providing a sort of virtual transportation network," Conley said.
Peggy Tadej, Base Realignment and Closure Act coordinator for the NVRC, said another key difference between the two transit methods is that Real-time Ridesharing pays drivers to participate which is an incentive for them to share their vehicles especially in areas with no HOV lane.
"This serves a need in non-transit locations," said Tadej who expects the Avego app to provide a faster service than other mass transit options.
The $600,000 program, which is targeting five DoD locations, is being funded by a $447,200 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and $91,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation. Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax counties are providing $50,000 in outreach support.
Of the five locations the project focuses on three are connected to Belvoir: the Fort Belvoir main post; the Fort Belvoir North Area, where the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is located; and the Mark Center.
Juanita Green, garrison transportation demand management coordinator, expects that Belvoir employees will participate in the program she believes could possibly be cheaper and quicker than other mass transit options.
She also said the program could provide a boost for car- and van-poolers who are searching for local ridership.
"I hope it's going to be a success," Green said.
Sign-ups for the program will begin in March, and ride sharing would begin in May or June.
Contact Peggy Tadej at (703) 642-4635 for more information.