One car, one commuter.
That’s a ratio the City of Red Deer would like to see change.
To encourage car pooling, the city has subscribed to ww.carpool.ca, a service that matches commuters with rides and is open to residents in Red Deer and area, including Blackfalds, Lacombe, Sylvan Lake, Penhold and Innisfail.
The city put $5,250 towards the $7,000 annual subscription cost and Alberta Health Services is covering the rest.
Micky Szeto, a traffic engineer with the City of Red Deer, said the initiative fits in with an environmental master plan approved last year.
Car pooling has many benefits beyond taking vehicles off the road and cutting pollution. Drivers can cut their commuting costs up to 10 per cent by just car pooling once a week, said Szeto.
The Canadian Automobile Association estimates the cost of driving and owning a car at up to $9,000 a year, or nearly $25 a day.
Being a car pool passenger is also good for your health. Studies have shown that by sharing the daily job of fighting traffic car poolers have less stress, higher morale and lower blood pressure.
Szeto said companies taking advantage of the car pool service will be approached for a funding contribution as the project gets established.
There are other ways to help out as well.
For instance, Red Deer College has designated 24 choice parking spots for car poolers, an approach that other employers can consider.
Szeto said he has car pooled in Ottawa and Edmonton and enjoyed it, although work commitments in Red Deer prevent him from sharing his ride.
“Getting started is the most important thing. Once you’re started, its second nature.
“The key thing is set up with a group that live in the same area. And you have to talk about cost sharing.”
A common misconception is that car pooling means getting locked into a daily joint commute.
Szeto said some might find only two or three days a week works best.
The city hopes 100 commuters sign up and are matched in the first year. So far, 32 people have already registered.
Another initiative the city is looking at is called the walking school bus.
The project encourages youngsters to walk together, each child joining the group as it passes their home on a set route each morning.
To register for car pooling go to www.carpool.ca