Residents invited onboard with carpooling

Drivers in Vernon and across the Okanagan are being encouraged to pool together.

Drivers in Vernon and across the Okanagan are being encouraged to pool together.

The Okanagan’s fifth annual Carpool Week runs Oct. 24 to 28, and it encourages commuters to visit Carpool.ca and participate in various activities and possible pick up some prizes.

“Apart from lessening our impact on the environment, carpooling makes good economic sense for motorists,” said Wendy Majewski, Vernon’s transportation demand management co-ordinator.

“In addition to saving money, for businesses, companies and corporations, it helps with parking issues especially in the downtown core.

“Any workplace interested can contact me directly at: 250-550-7831 or email at wmajewski@vernon.ca and I will provide a free carpool tool kit. Also, I would be happy to assist your business in promoting and participating in the free program.”

The City of Vernon encourages commuters to consider using the free and secure carpool-matching service provided at www.carpool.ca, making them eligible to win prizes including a Kindle Reader, GPS system and over $400 worth of free fuel.

Carpool Week 2011 prize-winning activities for the month of October include:

1. Registering with www.carpool.ca as a new user,

2. Returning to www.carpool.ca as an existing user and search for carpool partners,

3. Submitting an inspirational carpool story (online through www.carpool.ca),

4. Using the new www.carpool.ca Trip Tracker feature to measure savings resulting from trips not taken, or

5. Using social media to play ‘Transportation Trivia’ and ‘Carpool Tag’. Visit www.facebook.com/CarpoolDotCA or follow @Carpool. ca on Twitter for details.

“It’s important to note that carpooling doesn’t require a large commitment,” said Anne Marie Thornton, manager of Carpool.ca. “Our desire to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions tends to be secondary to our need for convenience, so consider carpooling once or twice a week to start.”

Canadians drive to work each day with over 30,000,000 empty seats in their vehicles. The goal of Carpool Week is to increase commuter awareness of carpooling as a convenient way to save money while reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. There are currently over 900 Okanagan commuters presently registered with www.carpool.ca.

While this is Kelowna and Vernon’s fifth Carpool Week, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland and Oliver have got on board for the first time this year.

Although the cost of gas and parking are readily noticeable, the true costs of owning and operating a vehicle are much higher than most drivers would suspect.

According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian household spends over $12,000 per year on transportation alone, the second highest expense next to shelter. Even those driving as little as 12,000 km per year are looking at annual driving costs of between approximately $8,000 and $10,000, varying with the make and model of the car.

Carpool.ca celebrated 10 years of service last year, launching a new website with a variety of new features. This year’s new feature of corridor matching, allows users to identify matches along a user defined travel route. This will greatly increase commuters’ ability to find carpool matches.

The program is not just for people who live within city limits. In more rural areas where public transit might not be readily available, carpooling makes even more sense, said Majewski.