- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A program to help coordinate carpooling in the Baton Rouge area could be available online by the end of the year.

The Capital Region Planning Commission has been awarded a grant from the state Department of Transportation and Development for a software program designed to help connect commuters to share rides to and from work.

The Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/1rrmRPa) the GreenRide program uses an Internet-based approach that can be customized to let employees of a single company connect to share a ride to work or be open to the general public to connect neighbors who might be traveling to the same place.

The hope is that by helping people connect, the program will reduce congestion on highways and provide a way to cut ozone pollution as Baton Rouge braces for yet another new, likely lower air quality standard.

Supporters spent time this past summer meeting with some large employers in the region, which includes East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension and Iberville parishes.

A bonus of the program, which has operated successfully in other areas, is that it allows people to record their trip mileage to generate information on how much money was saved and how much pollution was reduced. This could come in handy when the five-parish area around Baton Rouge tries to meet a lower ozone standard expected to be proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in December.

As part of customizing computer software for Baton Rouge area commuters, the planning commission is asking the public to complete an online survey focusing on driving habits and what they’d like to see in a program.

The idea of the GreenRide program has been floated several times over the years, most recently this past summer at a meeting of the Baton Rouge Clean Air Coalition. A key to success, supporters said, is getting large employers to pitch the program to their employees as an alternative way to get to work and save money.

Supporters also said the program must be well-promoted if it is to succeed. Programs in other cities offer prizes or other incentives to attract participants.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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