Empty Seats: An untapped resource

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Tompkins Weekly 02/18/2013

By Jonathan Maddison

If you look at the morning traffic on Route 13, you might see a driver belting out a ballad or one in the middle of a phone conversation. You might also notice that most of these cars have only one seat filled–the driver’s seat. It’s estimated that 20,000 individuals commute into or out of Tompkins County every day and nearly 60% of these commutes are made alone. The empty seats in these cars are an untapped resource in Tompkins County that can cut down on transportation costs, traffic congestion, and carbon emissions.

This month, Way2Go, Zimride and Ithaca Carshare are offering rewards to individuals that use Zimride to rideshare and help fill these empty seats. Zimride users will be entered to win one of several prizes, including gas cards, Carshare and Zimride t-shirts, and more!

Zimride is an online tool that matches up people who need rides with others going the same way. Users enter their starting location and destination and Zimride shows others going the same way. Zimride has community-wide access for Tompkins County, and also offers exclusive portals to students and staff of Ithaca College, Cornell University and TC3. It has already carried nearly 9,000 people half a million miles and saved them over $300,000!

Zimride can work well for almost any type of trip. Commuters can add their regular schedule when they post or request a ride making it easy for them to find others to carpool with. Longer trips outside the county can also work. A local resident recently used Zimride to get to and from New York City for a job interview. Zimride found a ride for her to the city and back for $20! It has also helped users get to medical appointments, the grocery store and more!

Ridesharing is just one of the many transportation services that county residents have. These transportation services work well together and support a more sustainable and affordable transportation system. Ithaca Carshare gives its members access to over twenty vehicles in Ithaca, and allows them to easily post their ride on Zimride. Most Ithaca Carshare vehicles are parked along TCAT bus routes making them easy to access. Zimride and TCAT can also work together to get you to and from your destinations throughout the day. For example, Zimride might get you into town for the day, while TCAT can carry you around destinations within town.

Try Zimride Tompkins for your next trip, and you could win one of several great prizes, including a $50 gas card. Ridesharing is an easy step that you can take to tap into the reduced cost and carbon emissions that are realized when you fill the empty seats in your car. Zimride makes ridesharing easy and using it along with other transportation options can meet almost any transportation need.

If you’d like to learn more about ridesharing, Way2Go has how-to videos free to watch at www.Way2Go.org. For more information about getting around Tompkins County safely, affordably and comfortably contact Way2Go at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at (607)-272-2292, or Staff@Way2Go.org.

Jonathan Maddison is the Way2Go Travel Training Coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.

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