City asks drivers to share cars

Want to save money, the environment, cut your stress level and become a model citizen? Sure you do. So, how do you pull this trick off? Try…

Want to save money, the environment, cut your stress level and become a model citizen?

Sure you do.

So, how do you pull this trick off?

Try sharing a vehicle with your neighbour.

Whitehorse wants local drivers to carpool.

And it’s trying to make the scheduling easy.

A $2,000 city-funded program urges commuters to visit, a nationwide website that matches drivers with would-be carpoolers.

Register at the free site and you can find a nearby carpooling match.

Today marks the beginning of the city’s push toward increasing carpooling with Whitehorse’s first rideshare week, which continues through to January 13th.

And the city hopes drivers and riders will take this opportunity to find their perfect match.

Fifty Whitehorse commuters have already offered to share their cars since October, when the city joined the program.

“It just makes sense,” said Mark Evans-Ehrichts, who signed up to carpool about a month ago. “It’s something where everyone can benefit — it costs you less and saves fuel being burnt.”

Evans-Ehrichts lives on Hotsprings Road, about 23 kilometres from downtown.

He visited the site in hopes of being matched with a neighbour to share the time and the cost of the daily commute to downtown, where he works.

Evans-Ehrichts hasn’t found a match yet. already boasts more than 10,000 participants from 48 cities across the country.

“The number-one reason people cited for not carpooling was that they didn’t know anybody to carpool with,” Commuter Connections Society director Anne Marie Thorton said from Victoria.

The society created the site in 2000 to match would-be carpoolers across the country.

Carpooling etiquette dictates riders share fuel, car maintenance and parking costs, according to the website.

It also suggests drivers have liability insurance of at least $1 million as well as underinsured motorist protection.

Sharing rides will save the average driver $4,000 a year — half of the $8,000 a year it costs to keep a car on the road, said Thorton.

And it will halve the five tonnes of air pollution emitted by the typical car each year, she added.

Transportation emissions make up 27 per cent of greenhouse gasses in Canada — it’s the highest contributor, according to Environment Canada statistics.

Joining the site is part of a city-wide initiative advocating drivers be less “fuelish” — which is defined as spending hard-earned money on fuel costs — in 2006 by carpooling, biking or walking.

The site lists common destinations, including the Whitehorse airport, downtown, hospital, industrial area and the Canada Games Centre.

“It’ll help people who don’t like dealing with parking issues and those who don’t want to scrape off the windshield every morning and spend time warming up the car,” said environmental services manager Wayne Tuck.

The push to carpool is part of the city’s Transportation Showcase Program — a $2.3 million initiative, with $700,000 coming from Ottawa, including other projects like building the Rotary Centennial Bridge and installing downtown bike lanes, added Tuck.