Group offers solutions to gas price shock

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:55

    Sussex County -Gas prices, road congestion and traffic delays are frequent topics around the water coolers of New Jersey's businesses. Lamenting what is and condemning "them" for allowing it, water cooler grumblers tend to do little to improve their lot. Yet in every group there is often one individual who took action and did something about it. Paul Mahtook, a commuter who took action, vanpools from Pennsylvania to Morris Plains every day. "I've been participating in the vanpool for 15 years. During that time I have seen the traffic on Rt. 80 increase, causing us to adjust our driving hours to try to beat the rush. At least when we are in traffic, we can enjoy the company of eight other riders and find comfort in the fact that we are not putting 90 miles per day on our cars. With today's gas prices, being able to split the cost with eight other riders is a huge plus." Many other area workers choose to share the ride to work in two, three and four passenger carpools. Typical of the remarks made by carpoolers is this comment from a commuter who met her carpool partner through TransOptions Ride Matching program, "Carpooling has been great. On those days that I carpool, I arrive at work more relaxed and find comfort in the fact that I also saved money. On the way home I have time to unwind while having a friendly conversation with my carpool partner." Stories like these are the reason TransOptions pushes ridesharing as an alternative to the solo ride to work.. When John Ciaffone, TransOptions president, talks about ridesharing he stresses the big picture: the benefit to the environmental and social responsibilities of every commuter. "We know cars pollute and we know traffic congestion is getting worse and worse. When we commute alone we are part of those problems. Simple steps like carpooling one or two days per week can have a great impact upon the amount of traffic and the pollution it produces," he said, listing the advantages of not riding alone to work. "Saving money, reducing traffic, helping with air pollution, enjoying the ride a bit more. It is such a win n win, I can't figure out why more people don't give it a try. With gas prices up and no real relief in sight, carpooling just one day per week can save 20 percent in gas." TransOptions is a transportation management association serving northwest New Jersey. The group is supported by 34 partner companies and organizations. Locally, TransOptions offers area workers assistance with finding solutions to their commutes. Because of the recent rapid rise of gas prices TransOptions has experienced an increase in the number of individuals inquiring about its ride matching program. More information on the program or TransOptions can be obtained by calling 973-267-7600 or by visiting the organization's Web site at "Now is the time for commuters to seriously look at their commute choices. Ridesharing, using mass transit or choosing to telecommute a day or two per week can save them money and are socially and environmentally responsible actions," said Ciaffone.