Finding someone to carpool with is now as easy as downloading a phone app.
Carma is a ridesharing app that matches potential drivers with riders. It's a possible way that people can save money and maybe even make a few friends along the way.
Just take one look around on the roads and you'll probably see the same issue over and over again: cars with only one rider. Everyday more than 900,000 seats go unused in Austin because people drive to work alone.
Carpooling is something that people can literally do today to help fight traffic. There are people driving that you can catch a ride with. That's where Carma comes in. It's the world's first social transportation network .
Austin Carma Community Manager Lauren Albright says,”We have a real time carpooling network where we connect people through their mobile phone to other people that are going their same way so that they can connect to share a ride, leave a car at home and help fight traffic.”
The app uses GPS to find other users who are going your same way at the same time within a mile of your starting point.
Users can check out profiles and reviews from other carpoolers. You can even message and call a driver if you would like to know more about them.
Carma is the only legal ridesharing app in the city. The reason Carma is allowed and companies like Lyft and Uber are not is because its drivers don't make a profit.
Drivers offering rides make 17 cents a mile. Riders pay 20 cents a mile which goes towards fuel costs and car maintenance.
“We're not paying people to drive around and you know do on demand rides. We're below the federal IRS limit of 55 cents per mile, which they classify as making a profit,” Albright says.
If you're still not convinced about signing up, there's one thing that might change your mind. If you take a toll road, you can get 50% to 100% back of that toll depending on how many people are in your car.
Albright says, “If people carpool with Carma app they can earn toll reimbursements on the 183A and Manor Expressway toll roads up North.”
Tolls are reimbursed through the app. And that's all part of the incentive program they have with the city of Austin .
The company is testing its technology during a federally funded pilot program that runs through the end of the year.
So far members have traveled 32,000 miles by carpool and saved people close to a thousand dollars in toll costs.
Albright says, “The goal of Carma is to make carpooling more flexible, easier to do and that's what makes us unique.”
Carma is hoping to bring the age-old tradition of carpooling into the digital age
The company will conduct a study at the end of the pilot program to see if they can continue to operate in Austin.
You can download the free app for your Android or iPhone. For more information you can click here.