By Matthew Nerger
Baton Rouge is a city of cars and, unfortunately, of traffic jams. Through Geaux Ride, a carpool matching service officially launching September 16, the Capital Region Planning Commission hopes to help reduce this traffic by reducing the number of cars on the road.
Through the service users can create a profile to connect with fellow commuters in their area. After asking a few questions such as your start and end locations, the time at which you commute, and how far out of the way you are willing to go to carpool, the site generates a list of registered users in your zip code for you to contact.
“The idea is that if you get enough users, you can reduce the number of cars on the road,” says Jay Suktis, the commission’s transportations alternatives coordinator.
The service is not only for individual drivers, however, as the commission has been working to implement the service with large businesses and employers in the area such as the Department of Louisiana Transportation Development, the Department of Natural Resources, and BASF. “That’s where you get the most bang for your buck,” says Suktis. Because employees of the same company often arrive at the same destination at the same time, it is significantly easier for them to carpool.
“A good portion of government workers, where we’ve been concentrating on starting the program now, commute from Livingston and Ascension Parish into downtown Baton Rouge,” says Suktis. In fact, many people in the region commute to Baton Rouge from these parishes, and because of this traffic builds up on roadways between these points, such as on I-10. By consolidating commuters into fewer cars, the commission hopes to reduce the amount of cars creating back-ups.
“If we can reduce the commute time of an individual by just a fraction of what is was before, then we’ve done a good service,” Suktis says.
The service can be used for more than daily commuting. Its tools are designed to allow longer distance trips as well, such as from Baton Rouge to New Orleans or Lafayette. Just as with a daily commute, the service produces a list of registered users for you to contact and arrange a carpool.
In addition to connecting you to commuters in your areas, the site can also log your carpooled commutes and return statistics on how much money or gallons of gas you’ve saved using the service.
The goal of the service is not only to reduce traffic and transportation costs. It also hopes to improve air quality in the city by reducing the amount of car exhaust emissions, and make the roads clearer and safer for pedestrians. In fact, the site also keeps track of the amount of carbon emissions reduced through the service. As of September 4, the site reports reducing 342 pounds of CO2 emissions in less than one hundred logged commutes.
Suktis also cites the demands of a younger workforce who want to live in more urban, pedestrian friendly environments benefiting from the app, which also has the option to form bikepools—groups of people of bike to work together for safety or other reasons. To retain a younger workforce, he says, alternate transportation options such as GeauxRide are needed.
“The conversation needs to be about moving people,” Suktis says, “not about making it efficient for just one mode of transportation.”
Similar services have already sprung up in twenty-five cities around the country, including New Orleans, and are continuing to grow.
The service is free through the Capital Region Planning Commission, and can be accessed at https://geauxride.greenride.com. A launch party will be held September 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Boulevard Town Square. Lunch will be provided.