CommuteSmart Carpooling Program

Tips for Getting Started | Tips for a Successful Carpool

The costs of commuting are impacting UA employees’ personal budgets and forcing people to seek ways to reduce fuel consumption in order to save money. The UA Human Resources Department is addressing this issue by offering the CommuteSmart online carpool matching program. Carpooling is an excellent way to save money by reducing gas consumption and car maintenance while also helping our environment.

What is CommuteSmart?

CommuteSmart is a program developed by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham in 1999 to help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in Jefferson and Shelby counties. The program has since grown and now encourages individuals throughout Alabama to change their commuting habits and educates them on cleaner modes of transportation. Some of these methods include carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling/walking, and transit. 

Q. Who can participate in the CommuteSmart carpool program? 

A. All UA employees may sign up to participate in CommuteSmart.

Q. What constitutes a “registered” CommuteSmart carpool?

A. In order to be a registered CommuteSmart carpool:

  1. Two or more UA employees must drive together in a privately owned vehicle.
  2. Everyone must be listed as participants in the CommuteSmart database.
  3. The HR Carpool Registration Form must be completed and returned to the HR Service Center.

Q. Why should I participate in the CommuteSmart carpool program? 

A. There are many reasons to carpool. You’ll save money on gas, car maintenance and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.  It is also a great opportunity to ride to work with friends, make new friends, and can reduce the stress associated with daily commuting.

Q. How does the CommuteSmart online carpool matching service work?

A. You enter your information in the web-based software program, e.g., home address, work address, work starting/ending time, etc. Once this information is entered, you will be able to access the system and locate individuals who match your profile and commuting schedule.  It is your responsibility to contact the individuals you match and establish a carpool, or to see if you can join an established carpool.  If you do not find a match, be sure to check the site regularly because new names are added each week.

Q. How do I enter my information into the online CommuteSmart carpool matching program?  

1.) Go to www.commutesmart.org or click on the link.

2.) Read the information under “Create a New Registration (New Users) and review the “terms of use.”

3.) Click on the “Register” button.

4.) Complete the Commuter Registration information.

5.) Click on the submit button. Be sure to complete all of the information and to check the site regularly for potential carpool matches.

Q. Once I establish a carpool, what do I do?

A. Complete the HR Carpool Registration Form and return it to the HR Service Center.  This information will be used to notify you of any future incentives offered to participating carpoolers. Additionally, we will add your carpool to the HR website.  We encourage carpoolers from the same areas to become familiar with each other in the event someone is stranded and needs a ride home.

q. What do I do in an emergency, and I don’t have my car?

A. Emergency rides home are the responsibility of the individual carpoolers, and they should plan ahead for such events. Should an emergency situation arise and a ride home is needed, you may call Enterprise car rental at 349-4446 and arrangements will be made for a car to be delivered to you or you can pick-up the car at the nearest Enterprise office. A special rate of $31 a day for a compact car has been negotiated with Enterprise. If you are a resident of Jefferson or Shelby counties and are registered in the CommuteSmart database, you are entitled to use the Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program sponsored by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.  You can download the ERH fact sheet for more information. You must be a resident of either Jefferson or Shelby County to receive the ERH benefits

* UA employees who commute to campus have an option. The CommuteSmart Carpool Program was established to aid UA employees in finding other UA employees with similar commutes. Its express purpose is to assist in connecting employees who may wish to establish a carpool agreement. The University is using the CommuteSmart online carpool matching system for employees who are potentially interested in forming a carpool to communicate with each other. The participating parties are solely responsible for making all arrangements, and users of the service assume all risks. This list serve may be subscribed to only by UA employees.

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Tips for getting started

When you contact other individuals to discuss possible rideshare arrangements consider or do the following:

  • What days will you carpool and who will be the driver?
  • How will driving responsibilities be rotated (i.e. daily or weekly)?
  • Where and when will riders be picked up?
  • How long should the driver wait, if a rider is not at the designated pickup point?
  • What are the best routes to designated pickup points?
  • Identify alternative routes to avoid congested roads.
  • How will rideshare schedules be adjusted during inclement weather?
  • Share home and work and cell phone numbers.
  • Meet for coffee or lunch before carpooling to get to know each other.
  • If members do not share the driving, how will driving costs be divided?
  • Will eating and/or smoking be allowed in the car?
  • Establish rules concerning perfumes or colognes and eating and drinking in others’ car.
  • Consider starting out on a trial basis by carpooling one or two days a week.

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Tips for a successful carpool

  • Be courteous to others in your carpool.
  • Always be on time.
  • Call other members if you are sick or running late.
  • Let other members know when you have to stay late or leave early.
  • Let members know when you will be away on business or vacation.
  • If one person does the driving, all should share the commuting costs.
  • Fill your gas tank before you leave.
  • Give yourself extra time when driving in bad weather and adjust pickup schedules accordingly.
  • Don’t make side trips to and from work.
  • Give your carpool time to work. It usually takes a few weeks to arrange everyone’s routine into a harmonious pattern. 
When you don’t have your vehicle at work
  • Give yourself extra time if you plan to walk to meetings.
  • Share a ride with someone else who is attending a meeting.
  • For on-campus trips, use the Crimson Ride bus system.
  • If possible, try not to schedule meetings late in the day.
  • If you are attending a late day meeting, inform others attending the meeting that you may need to leave early.
  • Use on-site banking, dry cleaning, postal and cafeteria services to reduce the need for midday off-site trips.
  • Use the refrigerators and microwaves that many buildings have and bring your lunch to work.

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