Portland promotes ridesharing

The city is working on a Web site that will help drivers organize carpools to cut carbon dioxide emissions

Portland, Ore., is developing a Web site that will be one of the first in

the nation to offer a fully automated system for organizing local carpools

and vanpools. The intent is to save 160 million vehicle miles, equivalent

to 70,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, across the planned 10-year

period of the program.

Tentatively called CarpoolMatchNW.org, the site will be beta tested

during the summer with the participation of about 20 government agencies

and nonprofit organizations, before an expected formal opening as a free

site Sept. 1.

"Our mission is to get people to do anything other than drive," said

Cynthia Thompson, manager of Portland's new Transportation Options Division.

"But, typically, when people have wanted to carpool or vanpool, they've

only done it for longer trips, and have had to sign in to several different

databases to organize them."

The Web site will hopefully attract more people to carpooling by making

trips easier to arrange, she said, as well as making shorter shared trips

possible.

People will be tracked when they sign on for the service, as well as

through regular surveys. There will also be built-in calculators on the

Web site, so people can see both the daily and cumulative emissions- and

fuel-savings from the program.

Thompson said there is already a lot of interest to expand this to a

statewide program, as well as to make it available also for people who might

want to plan alternative trips by bike and other forms of transportation.

RTSe USA Inc., Redmond, Wash., developed the software for the site.

The initial $120,000 for building the site was provided by a grant from

The Climate Trust, a Portland-based nonprofit organization that funds projects

that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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