That adds up to almost 70,000 passenger trips per month.
“This is the way to go to work stress-free,” said Sheila Larson, spokeswoman for Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which coordinates the service.
These commuters don’t have to worry about clogged highways — they ride in the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.
They don’t have to worry about reaching their destination if it’s off the beaten path. Their van is going to the same general location.
They don’t have to worry about odd time schedules. Others in their van work the same hours.
And probably most importantly, they don’t have to worry about finding each other.
OmniMatch does it for them.
The free personalized service matches riders with drivers using an extensive regional database.
“We have van pools going north into Montgomery County, Md., and south, even to Richmond,” Larson said. “This is an alternative to trains, buses and the Metro.
“The good thing about car pools and van pools is the flexibility that it offers,” Larson said.
Through a Web-based request form or a phone call, commuters are asked to submit criteria that includes origin and destination points, along with work hours.
A match list is then created and the commuters are able to choose what option would work best.
The privately owned and operated van pools function on a share-the-ride, share-the-cost basis. The charges average about $95 per month depending on the distance traveled, occupancy and insurance rates.
Car pools, however, simply alternate riding and driving.
“The program has been going on for a number of years,” Larson said.
OmniMatch processed about 210 new applications in December.
To date, there are 122 maxivans — which seat 15-16 people — on the roads, along with 26 minivans that seat under seven as a result of OmniMatch. Statistics on the number of active car pools are not kept.
An additional benefit of the ride-sharing program is a guaranteed ride home, four unscheduled transportation trips home, a year.
“This is like a security blanket,” Larson said.
OmniMatch will also redeem Metrocheks, the tax-free benefit provided by the federal government to help pay for transit.
To receive more information about OmniMatch and to register, call (703) 730-OMNI, (800) 730-OMNI or online at http://www.omniride.com.
Staff writer Aileen Streng can be reached at (703) 878-8010.