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November 18, 2011

CiCarpool Helps Central Illinois Commuters Save Money and Miles Driven

In 2008, a few employers in Morton began to offer carpooling as an added benefit to their employees to help offset rising gas prices.  That program has now evolved as a regional program that the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission began marketing to the general public this year.

CiCarpool is web-based ridesharing web site that assists users in searching for carpool partners. Types of trips include daily commutes, single trips, long distance travel, and special event coordination. The database helps people find partners for their trip and allows users to contact each other directly through the site without releasing private information. “This program complements public transit by offering locations where transit doesn’t have stops and in hours that transit doesn’t run,” according to Ryan Granata, a human service transportation planner with Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.  CiCarpool has is origins from icarpool, a Seattle carpool organization that has spread to many communities including San Diego, Denver, and Savannah.

The local program launched in January of 2011 and now boasts almost 350 members who are finding carpooling matches through the web site. “We have saved 15,000 miles since January, ” Granata said.  Funding for the program came through the Federal Transit Administration and their Job Access and Reverse Commute program (JARC).  “We have secured funding to keep the system free for users and employers through the end of 2013.”  The ridesharing committee includes the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce, the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, Citylink, OSF, and the City of Peoria.

The program certainly has a financial benefit for the user in the money saved on gas as well as reduced wear and tear on their automobile. The program is effective for users who have set work schedules, but it can also be used for one-time trips as well. For example, if someone is planning on a trip to Normal, they can log in, enter the destination and date, and find other users looking for the same match.

Through the “commuter calculator” link on, prospective users can help calculate their commuting costs and environmental impact by imputing data such as miles driven, vehicle mileage, cost of gas, and cost of auto maintenance.  According to the American Automobile Association, the average cost of driving a mid-sized vehicle 15,000 miles a year is more than $8,000 a year including financing, insurance, registration, taxes, depreciation, and operating costs. CiCarpool allows users to track their progress by signing in to the web site to track their miles saved.

The program is also a benefit to employers by giving them another tool to use for recruiting and retention of commuters from local communities. With a successful commuting program in place, the facilities benefit by requiring smaller parking lots and less impervious surface area to minimize stormwater runoff that causes excessive erosion and inundates municipal water treatment plants.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission announced a new clean air education and action program program called “Driving Change”,  “This is a long term initiative of the Commission to educate and encourage residents to make small changes to their transportation routine to make big changes in our region’s air quality.  ciCarpool will be a big part of the message,” Granata added.

Visit www.cicarpool.organd see for yourself!

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