TBARTA Encourages Ride Sharing To Ease Region's Traffic Congestion

Why wait for light rail and improved bus routes to address growing issues like fuel consumption and car emissions? According to the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA), there's an oft-overlooked but immediate solution: carpooling. And it is hosting a video contest to encourage Bay area commuters to consider it.

"One of the goals is to reduce the number of cars on the road," says Amy Ellis, TBARTA's director of communications. "By encouraging people to carpool, we hope to directly reduce emissions and fuel consumption. It's an immediate solution to a growing concern."

How Cool is Your Carpool? video contest joins TBARTA's other initiatives designed to encourage carpooling. Other programs include ride matching, van pools and school pools. In addition, TBARTA provides up to eight free taxi rides per year to carpoolers registered with them in emergencies that would otherwise leave riders stranded.

"These commuter services programs make carpooling more feasible," says Ellis. "And programs like our Emergency Ride Home relieves the anxiety associated with carpooling. We're trying to slowly educate people that there are other options."

Ellis says TBARTA is committed to education, providing presentations on the benefits of carpooling and telecommuting to employers throughout the Tampa Bay region.

"We're a relatively new organization and we want to continue the regional conversation any way we can. We really want to be the source for his region that puts together all these components. Traffic congestion and commuting don't stop at county lines. So our approach needs to be regional."

According to the American Public Transit Association, the typical public transit rider consumes on average one half of the oil consumed by an automobile rider.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Amy Ellis, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority
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