An innovative ridesharing program has taken hold in Sonoma County, California, as WeGo Sonoma continues to utilize the real-time mobile rideshare app known as “Carma.” The app allows drivers and riders to post their planned and needed trips, and creates a system of payment so the cost of the trip is shared between both parties. Unlike services such as Side Car, WeGo’s purpose is to build a mass network of users in order to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips made by regular commuters.
WeGo is a joint venture of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA), Climate Protection Campaign (CPC), and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The program has been growing in Sonoma, Marin, and Contra Costa counties since April of 2012, and seeks to accomplish three regional goals:
- Increase the number of shared commute trips while reducing the parking demand;
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
- Build a critical mass of users to continue ridesharing once local outreach wraps up.
Public outreach and internet marketing are the main source of advancement for WeGo. The CPC has been one of the driving forces behind the promotion of the program, with Brandt Arthur, Lindsay Tamm, and Amy McCrary taking charge of social media campaigns via Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. CPC has also created a rewards program as an incentive for drivers to participate, offering gift cards to businesses such as Starbucks and Amazon. Other avenues for promotion include reaching out to local institutions such as Santa Rosa Junior College and regional corporate powerhouse Agilent Technologies, both of whom have encouraged employees and students to use WeGo.
The main issue that WeGo faces is mass participation. However, the program recently received a second round of funding from MTC, denoting WeGo’s overall success. With continued government support and ongoing promotion, it won’t be long before ridesharing becomes a commonality in the North Bay.
What would it take for you to participate in a rideshare program?
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