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Phone App Connects Commuting Riders with Drivers

January 15, 2012

By Amir Vera
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Thanks to a new phone app, it soon will be easier for commuters to share rides to military work sites in Northern Virginia.

The app, called Avego Driver, will begin its pilot program in Northern Virginia around June.

It will be available to government contractors and military employees offering or seeking rides to and from Fort Belvoir, Quantico Marine Corps Base and Alexandria’s Mark Center. Those three sites are known as Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, locations.

The pilot project is managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. Peggy Tadej, BRAC coordinator for the commission, said the new initiative will help commuters get to and from their destination.

“Many of the BRAC employees have moved from transit locations to non-transit, and this new ride-share app will provide a way to quickly match drivers and riders in the region,” Tadej said in an e-mail.

The app allows potential riders to communicate with drivers so that they can be picked up and dropped off on commutes to or from work.

“We use mobile apps to provide you with a ride based on location and destination,” said Jason Conley, director of government relations for Avego Corp.

The five-year-old company provides software and services to promote ride-sharing and carpooling in cities around the world.

In Northern Virginia, Conley said, the focus is on a handful of military installations along Interstates 95 and 395. That area “has the worst traffic in the country,” he said. “There are not many options for commuters; we’re providing that option.”

The Avego Driver app facilitates a commuting system known as “slugging,” in which commuters meet up in parking lots and drivers volunteer to give rides based on destination.

Like slugging, anyone can be a rider or a driver under the Avego system. However, unlike the traditional ways, drivers in the pilot program will be paid. They will receive $25 per month for gas if they provide rides to other commuters.

For commuters, the first five rides will be free. After that, they will pay $1 per pickup and 20 cents per mile. Conley said transactions will be electronic through the online service, PayPal.

“We facilitate electronic transactions between riders and drivers based on the distance of each journey,” Conley said.

The ride-sharing program, which is still in its developmental stages, has received funding from sources such as the Federal Highway Administration, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Arlington and Fairfax counties, and the city of Alexandria.

Word of the program has reached the state Capitol. Delegate Richard Anderson, R-Woodbridge, who served 30 years in the Air Force, carpooled every day from home to the Pentagon and back. He is enthusiastic about the Avego initiative.

“That would be a system that I would have used, if I was still doing the commute,” Anderson said. “What I like is that they’re doing a pilot program so they can identify any problems and work bugs out. I think they’re approaching it the right way.”

The ride-sharing program will begin a three-month sign up in March. The pilot project likely will begin in May or June.

On the Web

You can download the app from the Avego Corp.’s website, www.avego.com. The site also offers instructions and videos on how to use the service.

The website for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission is www.novaregion.org.