AUSTIN, Texas, May 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Due to overwhelming success in Northwest Austin, Carma Carpooling, the real-time carpooling network, is expanding its toll benefits program for carpoolers to the newly opened Manor Expressway.
Carma celebrated its expansion with local businesses and community leaders at the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority's "On the Road Again" Celebration over the weekend, where the orange Carma-branded Tesla was one of the first to drive on the new Expressway as part of a parade with local transportation leaders and Mayor Lee Leffingwell,
Carma has had several milestones this month, as they just reached 1,000 members in Austin. While the program only launched in late February of this year, Carma has already helped keep 1,250 car trips off the road, saved residents over 800 gallons of gas, and prevented over 15,700 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by matching residents with similar commute routes to share rides1. Carma has also helped 183A toll road users in North-West Austin save over $500 in toll costs.
The mobile app that matches drivers and riders as they travel, enabling them to set up carpools and share the cost of driving, is part of a world-first study to test its technology as a mobile carpool verifier, and is on its way to setting a precedence for virtual HOV lanes across the country. The program is a federally funded study developed in partnership with Texas Department of Transportation, Mobility Authority, and Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and offers Austin carpoolers toll rebates on the 183A and Manor Expressway toll roads. 2-person carpools get a 50% toll rebate, and 3+ person carpools get 100% of the toll back to their TxTag accounts.
While other transportation network companies are trying to stir up local support, Carma is currently the only legitimate ridesharing company in Austin that's helping residents do exactly that – share rides to get extra cars off the road during peak traffic hours. Carma agrees there need to be more taxi options for evening and weekend downtown activities, but that's not their focus as a company. Carma recruits members who want to help solve the traffic issues they sit in every day, a contributing factor to quality of life in Austin.
"Austin is on its way to becoming a booming tech hub, but our traffic crisis has the potential to slow our efforts significantly," said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. "I firmly believe that innovation is the key to Austin's future, and Carma proves that innovation means progress. Innovation is key to attracting more businesses to our city and keeping them here, and it's key to fixing our traffic problems. It's important that we change our habits and work together towards new, innovative traffic solutions."
"We had a hunch that Austinites would embrace the idea of putting their empty seats to good use through real-time carpooling, but we've been blown away by the activity our network has experienced in the past few months just on Highway 183A," said Lauren Albright, Community Manager for Carma. "It's refreshing to see residents joining up with their neighbors to take on the city's congestion problems. Austin has been the fastest-growing Carma city network to date, and we're only just getting started."
Austin residents are invited to join the Carma network at www.carmacarpool.com/austin.
Founded in 2007 and formerly known as Avego, Carma is a world-leading company in real-time carpooling technology, enabling people team up to improve their commute. Headquartered in Cork, Ireland and with offices in San Jose, CA, and Austin, TX, Carma's customers include cities, governments, public transport operators and tens of thousands of individual consumers and private transport operators.
Carma's Austin program is testing the benefits of real-time ridesharing technology and how it affects toll road travel behavior and traffic congestion. The pilot is funded through the Federal Highway Administration and developed in partnership with Texas Department of Transportation, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and Texas A&M Transportation Institute. As part of this program, Carma carpoolers receive toll rebates on the 183A and Manor Expressway toll roads. For more information visit www.carmacarpool.com or download the Carma Carpooling app.
1 Based on two people sharing a ride rather than each driving alone. Calculated using U.S. EPA 2011 average passenger vehicle fuel economy of 21 MPG