SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Beginning today, up to 1,000 commuters on the SR 520 corridor can take advantage of a unique real-time ridesharing system launched by global transportation firm Avego. The go520 project is the first large-scale pilot in the United States to study how real-time ridesharing could help manage congestion and save commuters money.
The Seattle-area pilot program allows 250 drivers with GPS-enabled smartphones to offer the empty seats in their vehicles to 750 riders along the SR 520 highway, in real time, as they travel. Avego pairs passengers and drivers through an easy-to-use system using iPhones and other mobile devices. Avego automatically distributes the cost of the commute among the riders, providing a key financial incentive to commuters frustrated by high gasoline prices.
“We’re eager to see if this approach to carpooling works for commuters and traffic,” said Brian Lagerberg, acting director of the Public Transportation Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation. “If people like it, real-time ridesharing will fill empty seats in cars and make transportation more affordable and efficient.”
The state-funded pilot project complements ongoing state and local efforts to help manage congestion and reduce carbon emissions on SR 520, including Smarter Highways, commute trip reduction, vanpooling, incident response, ramp meters, tolling, bus service, traditional online ridesharing and more. Tolling begins on the SR 520 floating bridge this spring, which is also likely to increase interest in ridesharing.
To encourage participation, Avego will reward go520 drivers with a $30 gas card monthly, plus travel reimbursements, for participating in the program 20 or more times each month. Drivers will also receive an Avego iPhone accessory pack (retail value $35). Riders will receive up to $30 per month in Avego credit to use towards real-time ridesharing journeys. In addition to these financial benefits, drivers and riders will be able to reduce commuting time by making use of the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) ramps and lanes.
Seattle SR 520 commuters can join the real-time ridesharing pilot program now by visiting http://go520.avego.com. Only drivers require an iPhone; passengers can use any mobile phone with texting capabilities.
In 2009, the Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to conduct a carpool pilot project on the SR 520 corridor in King County. The pilot project includes a detailed evaluation of real-time ridesharing to help policy makers determine how it compares to other demand management programs and whether it should be used elsewhere in Washington. WSDOT considered a variety of proposals and selected Avego to receive a $400,000 grant.
“Innovation and discovery are at the heart of what we do at the University of Washington, which is why we are pleased that our commuters have access to the go520 pilot program as we look to simplify the transition to tolling and replacement for the 520 bridge,” said Josh Kavanagh, director of transportation services at University of Washington. “We anticipate that the program will decrease congestion to all commuters, whether they participate directly in the program or not.”
Avego’s breakthrough real-time ridesharing system makes it easy to share rides by eliminating the hassles associated with traditional carpooling. Traditional carpools must be pre-arranged, and riders and drivers must stick to a rigid schedule for the carpool to work. Any deviation from the routine, due to sickness or having to work late, can throw a traditional carpool into chaos.
Avego Shared Transport is the only ridesharing application that matches drivers and riders in real time as they travel, so you can rideshare whenever you want, from wherever you are.
Once a match is made, Avego manages the journey from pick-up to drop-off, providing real-time status updates, automated security features, and electronic micro-payments that allow riders and drivers to share the cost of a journey. Safe and easy to use, Avego real-time ridesharing is already used by thousands of commuters in over 65 countries around the world.
“Avego is offering a revolutionary new mode of transportation that will, in time, enable millions of people to enjoy a safe, easy and flexible way to travel,” said Sean O’Sullivan, Avego managing director. “I hope the success of go520 in the Seattle area will encourage other cities to promote real-time ridesharing as a viable new option for commuters.”
To start an Avego ride-sharing community in your city, visit http://www.avego.com to download the free Avego Driver iPhone application or to sign up as a rider. A free application for Windows Phone 7 smartphones will be available to the public in April 2011.
Founded in 2007, Avego (http://www.avego.com) is a global provider of software, hardware and professional services for improving the efficiency of passenger transportation. Led by a multinational team of transport experts, Avego is a multinational company with offices in the United States (Washington, Silicon Valley and San Diego), Ireland (Kinsale and Dublin) and China (Dalian and Shenzhen). The company already has been issued three patents on their technology, with several more pending. Avego's customers include cities, governments and public transport operators in the United States, China and the UK, and thousands of individual consumers and private transport operators.