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Commute with Someone

September 16, 2011 Green Blog No Comments

Commuting by car these days in the DC metro area is time consuming and exhausting.  Depending on when you hit the beltway, you can amble along and sit in gridlock for what seems like forever, especially when you are expected at work by a certain time.

More and more people in the area are turning to organized commuting services like Commuter Connections or to the practice of “slugging”, whereby Virginia commuters look for occupants to fill their car in order to take advantage of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.

“We’ve seen a 50% increase in applications for carpooling from February through June of this year,” says Commuter Connections Director Nicholas Ramfos.  Ramfos speculates this jump could be due to the region’s increase in gas prices.

The non-profit Commuter Connections was established by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in 1974 in response to the 1973 oil embargo that raised the price of gas in the U.S.  The premise was to match commuters with each other in order to share commuting expenses.  Over the years Commuter Connections evolved to provide commuting options such as guaranteed ride home programs and van pools.  The organization’s current mission is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in the region by reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

According to Ramfos, 30,000 people are registered and use the Commuter Connections services in the DC Metro area.  Registered users go on the Commuter Connections website, enter employment destination information and then request a ride match view list.  Users can choose rides from a list of eligible carpools based on proximity to home addresses and work destinations.

“Slugging” is another option for commuters who are coming from Northern Virginia locations.  Initiated in 1975 when HOV van and car lanes were built in response to the 1973 oil crisis, this informal free ride sharing program is still going strong.

There are 27 designated  pick-up and drop-off points in Northern Virginia and DC where “slugs” stand in line morning and evening to catch a ride.  The name “slug” comes from the term bus drivers used to describe people who used dummy coins to try and catch a free bus ride.  In carpooling context, “slugs” first began lining up at bus stops with the intention of joining carpool rides rather than taking buses, confusing the bus drivers.  Now bus stops and other locations are designated as “slug” lines on the website  www.slug-lines.com.

Check out www.mwcog.org/commuter2 or www.slug-lines.com if you are willing to share a ride and want to reduce your carbon footprint and possibly your commute time.


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