By Rachel Riley
A revamped online service can help local residents find someone to share a ride with — whether it’s a regular commute to work or a one-time trip to Denver International Airport.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit’s newly-improved “RidePro” database helps users find others they can carpool with by matching registrants based on their travel schedules, origins and destinations.
With the rising popularity of smartphone apps like Uber and Lyft, the transit authority wants to cater to those looking for cheaper, more environmentally-friendly ways to get around.
“Ridesharing is a pretty hot topic these days,” said Vicki McCann, a Mountain Metro spokeswoman. “You can see that there’s a need out there for people to use other modes of transportation besides just single occupancy vehicles, and we thought it was important to make that easier to do.”
As of last month, the system included nearly 4,000 users.
“Vanpools” are another option available through the service. Under this mode of transit, the agency provides vans, vehicle maintenance, fuel and insurance to commuters who are headed departing from and heading to proximate locations. Mountain Metro has 25 vanpools, most of which travel from Colorado Springs to Denver with others going to the Pueblo Chemical Depot and Schriever Air Force Base.
Residents can also use the search engine to look for others to bike to work with or plan a trip on the bus system with real-time information on scheduled arrivals and departures provided through Google Maps. The service allows users to track how much money they save by using public transportation, biking or carpooling instead of driving solo.
While the carpooling database has been around since the mid-2000s, the upgrade was finished last year and recently cleared the beta testing stage, McCann said.
The new service is faster and more convenient, said Kelli Frazier, program manager for the city’s Metro Rides, which includes RidePro. Under the old system, a commuter would have to call a coordinator with the agency and later be notified if someone registered in the database shared a similar route.
“With the new system, they can just go onto the website, punch in their information and if there’s someone else in the system that matches with them, they will know that right away,” Frazier said.
RidePro is a product of the Trapeze Group, which markets transportation software to transit agencies.
The upgrade cost Mountain Metro roughly $47,000, McCann said. Vanpool fees paid for about 20 percent, and state funds generated through registration fees and fines under the state’s FASTER program covered the rest of the cost, she said.