Iowa DOT launches new rideshare program


As part of its efforts to reduce the number of vehicles on the state’s roads, particularly those with only a single occupant, Iowa is launching a new rideshare scheme.

A new website has been launched that is geared to connect Iowans with car and van pools. Iowa Rideshare uses technology to connect people coming and going to the same location, with cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users also able to be matched using the secure website. This site is a service provided by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IADOT) and funded as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative.

Iowa Rideshare, designed by a company called RideShark, uses state-of the-art mapping technology to search for possible commute matches, which are displayed on an interactive Google map, allowing users to email potential matches. Users can find matches for repetitive or single trips.

During the sign up process, commuters create a trip profile with where and when they would like to share a ride. That trip profile information is entered into a database that searches for other commuters with similar commute routes and schedules. When searching for commute options, they will receive a list of car or van pools that may best fit their needs.

In some car pools, each member takes turns driving their own vehicle, while in others there is only one driver. There is no hard and fast rule; it is totally dependent upon the individual circumstances of those in each carpool.

Members work together to find what works for them and are responsible for setting up the parameters of their individual carpool. Users can sign up for options to be a passenger only, if they do not have a vehicle for a car pool.

They can also specify which days of the week they want to share a ride. If the first car pool or van pool does not work out, the system finds other options.

“Iowa Rideshare is a way to connect more of us with people who are coming and going to the same place, at the same times, in order to reduce costs in gas, vehicle maintenance, and parking, as well as other benefits. It isn’t specific to one part of the state or one age group. It’s open to anyone,” explained Brent Paulsen, from IADOT’s Office of Public Transit.

“The database is searchable, but since the service is new and people are just starting to sign up, finding a match might take a little time. The site will be adding new users, but it will take some time to build up the database. Check back, as your options may have changed since last time you checked. Our goal is to connect people, but do it in a safe, responsible way. By working toward the same goal and having one place to connect, everyone will benefit.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).