Carpool commuters find each other with Ridequest.com

Redmond, Wash., commuters now can tap Ridequest.com, the nation's first self-service, online ride-sharing system, to match themselves instantly with other motorists traveling to and from businesses in the same areas.

Ridequest.com was developed by the Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association to reduce traffic congestion and the number of single-occupant vehicle trips in the region, said Donna Ambrose, the executive director of GRTMA.

"This tool enables people at their point of relative frustration -- while they are sitting in traffic one day -- to go home and jump online and find someone they can e-mail to start carpooling," Ambrose said.

Using the free Ridequest.com system (www.ridequest.com), commuters can register and log on with a password, enter their work schedules, home location and business location and within minutes receive a list of travelers with matching criteria.

Users also can update or delete their records at any time, sign up for a vanpool group that transports eight to 15 people at once in vehicles supplied by King County, or look at Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. maps detailing the general area where matching commuters live. The vanpool option was introduced at a demonstration last week.

Ridequest.com was co-developed by Puget Sound Systems Group Inc., a software development company based in Lacey, Wash. The system incorporates Hypertext Markup Language, JavaScript and a Microsoft Corp. SQL database, and it runs on a Compaq Computer Corp. dual-processor machine.

The site cost about $200,000 and was developed through Smart Trek, an Intelligent Transportation Systems demonstration project funded by the U.S. Transportation Department and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The system, which has been operational since April, already boasts more than 500 users. "We expect several thousand users by year's end," Ambrose said.

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