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Commuting Options:  Information & Resources

Latest News

Vanpool Participant Looks Back as She Plans to Retire from Riding after 23 ½ years

Empty Vanpool SeatElvira is getting ready to retire from her job and her vanpool.  Elvira has been riding in a vanpool from her home in the Wexford area to Oakland, since November 1986.   With an average daily commute of 19 miles one way, those miles and years have added up … so much so, that Elvira could have circled the earth more than 8 ½ times.

Elvira said she joined the van after seeing a sign for vanpooling.  She remarked that “There is nothing like the freedom of your car, but there is a lot to be said about sharing the ride, not having to drive in the winter weather, and I’ve enjoyed meeting the people on the van.”  She said that over the 23 years, the most memorable aspect of vanpooling has been the people.  She remembers one couple who announced they were expecting a baby.  And one man who joined the vanpool looking to meet a wife [although she reported that he didn’t].

Suffering from motion sickness, the group has allowed Elvira to ride in the front passenger seat. From that vantage point she has observed many drivers over the years.  Elvira said it “…is such a relief not to have to drive and that all the drivers are very safety conscious and take good care of the van.”  The coveted front seat spot is now being “raffled off” to one of the remaining members of the group.  And a rider for the newly vacated seat is currently being sought.

When asked what she would like others to know about vanpooling, she said “It does not impede your freedom as much as you may think, and there is emergency ride home service in case you need it.”  She added that it has been a very economical way for her to get to work.  Currently she pays $80 per month, and says that might sound like a lot but when you factor in the other costs of driving a personal vehicle, it is a bargain.

Elvira’s $80 per month riding the vanpool is a bargain when compared to the nearly $600 she would have paid driving alone.  Over the course of 23 ½ years, that is a savings of almost $150,000.  Click here to estimate what it really costs to drive alone to work or school and how much could be saved each month by sharing a ride.

Emergency Ride Home

“I would like to try carpooling, but what if there is an emergency and I need to get home?”  This is a common question CommuteInfo staff hear from commuters.

The CommuteInfo Emergency Ride Home (ERH) service is designed to provide a contingency option for registered commuters participating in a registered vanpool, carpool or bikepool in the event of an unexpected personal or family emergency, personal illness, unscheduled overtime, or other eligible event. 

Life PreserverThe CommuteInfo ERH service is available to commuters who are registered with the CommuteInfo program and participate in a registered vanpool, carpool or bikepool (how can you register?).

The CommuteInfo regional ERH service supplements, not replaces other existing more localized ERH programs (offered through individual businesses or Transportation Management Associations).

What happens if an eligible commuter needs an Emergency Ride Home?
The commuter simply makes arrangements to get themselves home. To qualify for reimbursement the commuter must be registered with CommuteInfo, participate in a registered vanpool, carpool or bikepool and ride in the bikepool, carpool or vanpool the day the ERH is needed.  The reason for the ERH must also fall within the program guidelines).

The commuter can check the list of suggested resources for help in identifying a provider, but the commuter can also choose a provider not on the list. The commuter then arranges for a ride, pays and gets a receipt. Then, within 30 days of the ride, submits the refund application and receipt to CommuteInfo for processing.

Will the eligible commuter be reimbursed for all of their costs?
The maximum number of trips that will be reimbursed annually is 4 per registered commuter or up to a total of $100 worth of trips (annually).

This program operates on a calendar year. Every January all participants must re-register and then start over with the 4 rides and the $100 limit (unused rides and/or reimbursements will not be carried over from year to year).

Learn more by clicking here or by calling the CommuteInfo staff at 1-888-819-6110.

CommuteInfo and Pittsburgh Pirates Offer a Triple Play Deal

As a thank you to current CommuteInfo participants and as a way to reach potential new commuters, the CommuteInfo program has partnered with the Pittsburgh Pirates to Offer a “Triple Play” discount to games the weekend of May 7 – 9.  Take advantage of the discounted tickets and promotional items and stop by the CommuteInfo table at the game the night of Saturday May 8th to let us know you are there! Click here to learn more about the “Triple Play” offer.

Car Free Fridays

Bike Pittsburgh (BikePGH), a membership based bicycle advocacy organization serving cyclists in Pittsburgh, has joined forces with a wide range of partners in Southwestern Pennsylvania, including CommuteInfo, to encourage commuting by transit, vanpool, carpool or biking through a promotion called Car Free Fridays.   

Car Free Fridays BannerCar Free Fridays is a series of events held on Fridays, sponsored by BikePGH to encourage increased use of commuting options.  Car Free Fridays promotes all modal options - transit, walking, biking, and ridesharing as a singular alternative to one person driving one car to work.

How can you participate?  Don’t drive alone on Fridays - take transit, carpool, vanpool, walk or join one of the bikepools departing from neighborhoods throughout the city and going to major commuting destinations such as Downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland and the South Side.   Help spread the word to co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc.  Keep checking back to the Car Free Fridays site for announcements of breakfasts, discounts, and specials on Fridays throughout the year.

Street Smarts - Tips For Safe Commuting Brochure CoverStreet Smarts – Tips for Safe Commuting

Street Smarts is an educational campaign to provide safety information to commuters.  As part of the campaign, CommuteInfo staff helped produce and distribute information cards promoting safe commuting by bike, car, and by walking.  Under the tagline “Don’t Be a Road Zombie” each card emphasizes simple steps, and common-sense tips, that anyone can take to make commuting safer, no matter how they travel.

Check out all three commuter safety cards on-line:

Please help CommuteInfo promote safe commuting.  Follow the safety tips.  Let your co-workers, family and friends know about the Street Smarts campaign and encourage them to take steps to be a safe commuter.  Don’t be a Road Zombie.  The consequences of becoming one can be life changing.

Commuting Options: Information & Resources

Transit

Port Authority of Allegheny County riders soon will experience a few significant changes

New fareboxes are being installed on all Port Authority bus and light rail vehicles.   The new fareboxes will be installed over several months and replace the older and unreliable boxes now being used. Riders should know that the new fareboxes behave much like modern vending machines – crisper bills work better!

The machines also will allow the Authority to later use smart card technology – something riders will hear more about through the next two years.

Starting April 4, the first phase of route changes shaped through the Transit Development Plan will occur.   Riders with questions should review the information available online.

Specific details about the changes will be available on Port Authority’s Web site (www.portauthority.org) starting in mid-February. Riders may receive email notifications of upcoming route changes by signing up on the Authority’s site.

More changes will be phased in throughout the year and be well-publicized ahead of time.

This is the first significant improvement to Port Authority’s route system in about 50 years. It is intended to make the system more convenient, efficient and easier to understand.

Most routes will change in some manner and route names are being simplified. Overall, the number of weekday bus trips will increase by 6 percent even though underused and overlapping routes will be consolidated.

To learn more about transit, visit the “Transit” page on the CommuteInfo website:  http://www.commuteinfo.org/comm_options_transit.shtml

 

Vanpooling

Vanpool Groups Looking for Riders

Several vanpool groups have seats available.  View the entire list of vanpool groups by clicking here.  The groups with the highest number of seats available are:

Origin: Pittsburgh (Group V502)
Destination: Boyers
Time Arriving at Work: 7 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 3:30 p.m.

Origin: Weirton (Group V140)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 7:20 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:05 p.m.

Origin: White Oak (Group V206)
Destination: Oakland
Time Arriving at Work: 8:10 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:05 p.m.

Origin: Mt. Pleasant (Group V126)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 7:40 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:10 p.m.

To obtain a complete list of vanpool groups that match your particular commute, fill out a commuter profile today by clicking here or by calling 1-888-819-6110.  If vanpooling works for you, you can join on either a full-time or part-time basis.   Also, if you know someone who might be looking for an alternative to driving alone, then tell them about CommuteInfo and vanpooling.  More information about the vanpool program can be found on the CommuteInfo website

Carpooling

Carpool Groups Looking for Riders
Several registered carpool groups have seats available…this is just a sample, for a complete listing of carpools looking for riders, please click here:

Origin: Irwin (CLAWR)
Destination: Lawrenceville
Time Arriving at Work: 8:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:30 p.m.

Origin: West Newton (CD052)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 8:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home:         4:30 p.m.

Origin: Conneaut Lake (C1245)
Destination: Oakland
Time Arriving at Work: 7:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:35 p.m.

Also, please tell other people about carpooling and how it might be an option for them.  More information about the carpool program can be found on the CommuteInfo website

To obtain a complete list of carpool groups that match your particular commute, fill out a commuter profile today by clicking here or by calling 1-888-819-6110.  If carpooling works for you, you can join on either a full-time or part-time basis.   Also, if you know someone who might be looking for an alternative to driving alone, then tell them about CommuteInfo and carpooling.  More information about the carpool program can be found on the CommuteInfo website

If you are already carpooling and want to register your carpool with CommuteInfo, registering takes less than 5 minutes – each person in the group completes a commuter profile and in the “other comments” section, simply state that they are part of a carpool and list everyone else in the carpool. 

Learn more about the benefits of registering your carpool with CommuteInfo or contact us to find out what specific options are available for you. 

Bicycling

Bike Commuters …
Looking for Someone to Share Your Biking Commute

Are you or someone you know considering riding a bike to work or school?  CommuteInfo can help find a bikepool buddy.  The process works the same way as finding someone to carpool with --- complete the commuter profile on-line or over the phone by calling 1-888-819-6110 and a matchlist with other people interested in biking to work or school will be sent to you.   Also, tell other people about bikepooling and how it might be an option for them.  More information about the bikepool program can be found on the CommuteInfo website

Several registered bikepool groups are looking for participants.  For the most up to date listing of bikepools looking for participants, please click here:

Origin: Highland Park/East Liberty (Group A)
Destination: Southside
Time Arriving at Work: 8:30 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:00 p.m.

Origin: Squirrel Hill (Group B)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 8:30 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:00 p.m.

Origin: Squirrel Hill (Group C)
Destination: North Side
Time Arriving at Work: 8:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 7:00 p.m.

Other Options

To learn more about walking, teleworking, flextime or compressed work weeks, visit the “Other Options” page on the CommuteInfo website:  http://www.commuteinfo.org/comm_options_other.shtml.

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CI LogoPlease send community events or speaking opportunities where the CommuteInfo staff and partners can present information about commuting options and learn about local commuting challenges of residents and businesses in your area. 

Also, send your story ideas for this e-newsletter – email your ideas today!

The CommuteInfo program is dedicated to increasing the number of people who share a ride work or school.  The goal is for commuters living, working or attending school within the 10-county Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission region (including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties) to choose ridesharing at least twice a week by providing them with viable options, incentives and encouragement.  CommuteInfo is also an information clearinghouse and resource center for commuters and employers.   

With approximately 60% of the Southwestern Pennsylvania region's 1.5 million workers traveling outside of their resident municipality to work each day, finding a better way to work is clearly an integral part of life for the region’s employers and workers. 

CommuteInfo is a program of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), coordinated in partnership with transportation management associations, transportation providers, businesses and non-profit service organizations throughout Southwestern PA. 

Check out previous e-newsletter editions by clicking here

Thanks again for your interest in commuting alternatives and CommuteInfo . . . a better way to work.