Save gas: carpool

Andy Christiansen

The website, ciCarpool.org, has its origins in the summer of 2008 when gas prices were raising concerns with local businesses on the cost of their employees commute to work.  

The Morton Economic Development Council asked the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission to do a study involving numerous alternative forms of transportation, and car-pooling proved to be the most economic.

Morton instigated the program but asked the Tri-County Commission to help put it into action.

“We were asked to come aboard and give them technical assistance,” said Ryan Granata of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

“We set up a committee here. And that committee is made up of business leaders and local chambers of commerce from around the region.”

The program was officially implemented in January of 2011, and according to Granata, the results have been very encouraging.

“As of last week, we have over 300 members,” said Granata.

“So far we’ve saved about 12,000 miles that people would be driving normally by themselves. We feel it’s been a pretty strong success so far.”

CiCarpool.org covers the entire Tri-County area, but the commission is trying to work with businesses and communities that are on the outer-limits of the Tri-County area and beyond. So far, Woodford County is not involved with the project.

“We’re trying to work with some of the businesses that are on the fringe. State Farm is a perfect example,” said Granata.

“We’re trying to find people over there that can actually use this system.”

Granata said that the current funding is primarily for the Tri-County region, but there are certainly notions of expanding out of the region, especially into the twin-city area.

“We’ve had some discussions with some other businesses that are not in our immediate region that are interested in piggy-backing on our system,” said Granata.

“All they would need to do is come in and buy their pack of user-licenses.”

Currently, there is no specific date in which people and businesses can expect to see ciCarpool.org beyond the Tri-County area, but expansion is expected for the future.  

“We’re trying to gage their interest in usage and their appetite for sharing some of the costs,” says Granata.

“We’re looking at getting additional funding for another year or two here in our region, and at that point we will begin to have some more in-depth discussions with some of our neighboring areas.”

Granata says that there have been no requests for financial participation from any local businesses in Woodford County or neighboring communities in the Tri-county area.

“This project has been funded by a series of grant funds,” said Grananta.

Though the website receives sufficient funds from the grants, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is open to any businesses in the area that wish to join ciCarpool.org.

“We are always looking for businesses who are interested in promoting this to their employees. There is no expense to the business, except some minor administrative work, which Tri-County is happy to assist with.”