RideBuzz: Organizing a system of ridesharing to reduce our carbon footprint.
RideBuzz is a non-profit ridesharing program based in Western Mass, which is innovating a new community rideshare system, and actively improving upon carpooling strategies. With rising energy prices cutting deep into people’s pockets and a heightening awareness of climate change, more people are looking for energy efficient and affordable transportation options. Not only does transportation account for 20-25% of Carbon Dioxide Emissions (CO2 is a greenhouse gas) that directly contribute to climate change, but in 2001, Americans spent on average 19% of their household expenditure on transportation (the cost of fuel has approximately tripled since that report). As a result, it’s getting harder and harder for people to afford groceries after filling up on high fuel prices.
The good news is: You don’t need an engineer to double the efficiency of your car! It’s easy. All you have to do is drive together and leave the other car at home. It’s called ridesharing (aka carpooling) and you can pay $2 dollars for a gallon of gas when 2 people share the cost of a ride, and as low as 50 Cents per gallon when 4 people share the trip. This is a pleasant contrast to the $4 dollar gas that is literally draining our economy. Richard Heinberg, one of RideBuzz’s Board of Advisors and Peak Oil expert, speaks about the importance of responding to climate change through using conservation-minded alternatives such as ridesharing.
In the Pioneer Valley, there are roughly 1.4 million empty car seats inside of the 550,000 registered vehicles that drive collectively an astronomical 15 million miles daily! This surplus of empty seating jostling down our streets is a tremendous waste of resources, especially as many of our community members don’t have access to transportation. You probably know someone that can’t drive – possibly an aging neighbor, friend or family member. The elder population is expected to increase 80% from 2005-2025 (TDM) and an increasing portion of the population will need rides. Ridesharing represents an opportunity to share a ride with someone that might not otherwise have access to transportation.
The RideBuzz organization is empowering community members and civic leaders with web-based tools and information to address environmental, economic, and social challenges by spearheading a regional effort to mainstream the use of ridesharing (aka carpooling). RideBuzz is pursuing innovative strategies that seek to provide energy efficient and affordable transportation options that also benefit under-served populations – such as elder, low-income, new Americans, and those with minor disabilities.
RideBuzz is calling on civic leaders, organizations, employers and community members to get involved with the RideBuzz program and help build the vision. A collective effort is needed to drive the initiative forward. It is the interconnection between trusting communities that will allow for a robust and viable rideshare network to emerge – essentially a new community-driven transportation resource. This emerging model will require a significant user base, and this is where the community plays a significant role.
· Normalize the Use of Rideshares Through Socially Cooperative and Technologically Convenient Strategies, and Community Education
· Provide Flexible and Accessible Transportation Options that Cross-Demographic Lines and Aid Under-served Communities - Including Elderly, Disabled, Low-Income, New American, and Unlicensed
· Deliver Significant Fuel Savings to Carpoolers - Retaining Dollars in Local Communities
· Increase Social Cooperation and Interaction – Community Building
· Increase Vehicle Occupancy and Reduce Vehicle Miles Driven
· Promote the Use of More Efficient Transportation Options Including Multi-Modal Strategies