Hitching a ride easier in Portland, Ore.

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 — during 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 launch 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."

Thompson hopes the Web site will 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 much interest in expanding this statewide,

as well as in making it available 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 reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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