Hanover incentivizes ridesharing through parking

by Joe Regan | 3/1/16 7:23pm

The town of Hanover recently started a pilot program with Upper Valley Rideshare in which commuters can coordinate carpools. Upper Valley Rideshare’s online platform will help users form rideshare groups, which are charged a reduced fee for parking in the Marshall Lot at 41 South Main Street.

Users pay $35 per month to park in a reserved space in the Marshall Lot with a vehicle registered to carry two or more people. Normally, a single space without the ride sharing program costs $56 dollars per month.

Upper Valley Rideshare is a company that works within the Upper Valley to coordinate rides for residents of Hanover, Lebanon and the surrounding area. The free service is organized through Upper Valley Rideshare’s website, which requires customers to input commuter information and locations. The 24/7 service then uses this to match people together in a carpool.

Patrick O’Neill, Hanover parking division supervisor, said that this year, about $10,000 of the town’s parking budget would go to the partnership with Upper Valley Rideshare. A portion of the approximately $238,000 annual budget always goes to supporting alternative transportation programs, O’Neill added. He noted that the funds raised from parking meters and fines factor into the town’s budget.

Across the country, rideshare programs have implemented similar models to increase access to carpools.

Joel Zlotnik, a Media Relations consultant for Orange County Transportation Authority, located in California, said “ridesharing is a small piece of the overall public transportation network.”

Thomas McCaughey, a consultant for Metro Rideshare, a rideshare service in Los Angeles, explained that the website functions as a middleman between people searching for carpooling opportunities. Metro Rideshare caters to many of the employees of the larger companies in LA, McCaughey said.

O’Neill said that ridesharing can reduce many challenges of a daily commute. He said he believes the program to be a good use of funds, and added that it was comparable to investing in public transportation that operates in the area that is open to the public.

“Anytime you can get a person to leave their car behind it is cutting down on traffic, congestion, and cutting down on the time that would have been spent looking for a parking space,” he said.

The Hanover service is open to anyone who pays the $35 dollars for a reserved parking space in the Marshall Lot, including students, town residents and College staff.

Currently, the College supports carpooling through a College program run though Zimride, which was started in 2008. Zimride allows anyone with a College email address to connect with each other to share rides. According to Zimride’s website, people participating have posted over 1.5 million miles in the ridesharing program, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 335,318 pounds. The College also allows registered two-person carpools to park in its lots at a reduced rate, and registered three-person carpools may park for free in a designated space. Several other colleges and universities including Princeton University use a similar program.

Sarah Eckert, a resident of Hanover, said that she believes carpooling is a good idea. She added that traffic in Hanover can be “pretty horrible,” and said it could be particularly bad near the College.

Jim McShay, also a resident of Hanover, said that he thought the program makes sense.

“If you can save money you can bet people will do it,” he said. “The only problem I can see is if you don’t like the people you are carpooling with.”