Do you wish the cost of gas and auto maintenance took a smaller bite out of your paycheck?
Then you might be interested in a really cool program offered by Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) that anyone who commutes to work or school can benefit from. TBARTA’s Commuter Services program offers a ride matching service and emergency ride home program for Tampa Bay residents who form or join a carpool or ride their bikes to work or school. Program participants last year saved an average of over $1,500 in annual transportation costs; and considering current gas prices, I’m guessing their savings this year could be considerably higher.
Here’s how it works: Register for the program at www.tampabayrideshare.org. If you already have at least one person interested in carpooling with you (your spouse counts!), then the website can give you several great tips on how to carpool. If you would like to carpool but don’t know anyone who commutes to the vicinity of your job or school, TBARTA can help “match” you with others headed in the same direction. And—here’s the really cool part—if you commit to carpool at least two days a week, TBARTA will provide up to eight free taxi rides a year to help cover emergency situations: for example, if you have to pick up a sick child from school or if you have to work late. Wow! If concern about how to plan for such contingencies has kept you from carpooling, problem solved!
TBARTA even has a vanpooling program for groups of five to 15 people who wish to commute together. For a monthly fee that’s shared by the commuter group, Bay Area Vanpool Program will provide the vehicle and cover all repairs and scheduled maintenance. One group member commits to being the primary driver and ensuring the vehicle’s scheduled service is completed.
And if you prefer to ride your bike to work, TBARTA has a Bike Buddy program for people who would like the added security of a bicycling partner. The program can help you identify fellow riders and bus routes on which you can transport your bike for part of your commute.
TBARTA’s Commuter Services program has eliminated more than 1 million car trips in the Tampa Bay area in the past year alone. That amounts to more than $11 million saved in transportation costs and a reduction of more than 362,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
Kudos to TBARTA for this innovative, low-cost way to help ease traffic congestion and cut down on carbon emissions in our community.
You can learn more about TBARTA and its programs and plans for improving transportation throughout the seven-county Tampa Bay area by visiting their website at www.tbarta.com.