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Ride Sharing Programs

Ride sharing is the practice of sharing rides or transportation, especially by commuters, typically in the form of carpooling and vanpooling. Some agencies and organizations have adopted formal definitions clarifying the number of people, types of vehicles, and operating characteristics that qualify as ride sharing. Shared ride programs generally include all forms of carpooling and vanpooling. These can be informal arrangements or formal arrangements made through ride-matching services. Ride-matching services take several forms, such as committed vanpool groups or dynamic ride sharing programs that support real-time ride sharing through short-term instant arrangements enabled by GPS and wireless service. Ride matching programs are often supported by a local public transportation agency.

Related Transportation and Heath Tool Indicators

How can this strategy result in health benefits?

  • Address chronic disease (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
  • Reduce transportation's contribution to air pollution

How has this worked in practice?

GoTriangle Commuter Programs, NC

GoTriangle is a partnership of public transportation agencies and organizations formed to promote commuter benefits across the Triangle region of North Carolina (Raleigh-Durham-Cary-Chapel Hill). The partnership coordinates programs and a website ( to help residents of the region find alternative travel options, including public transportation, and commuter options such as vanpools and carpools. The commute alternatives programs under GoTriangle aim to reduce traffic congestion and emissions through specific commute trip reduction strategies. Those include carpool, vanpool, public transportation pass, and other programs developed in partnership with individual Triangle communities and area universities and colleges. provides access to these programs, and to, a statewide ride matching service. GoTriangle is a part of the Triangle 7-Year Long Range Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan administered by the Triangle J Council of Governments, in coordination with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, regional metropolitan planning organizations, and regional and local public transportation agencies. The purpose of the 7-year plan is to reduce regional growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 25% between 2007 and 2015. For 2010, regional impacts of the Triangle TDM Program were estimated to include daily reductions of 223,711 VMT and 101,945 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Partners in GoTriangle also coordinate the program with their own agency environmental and health targets and initiatives. Wake Technical Community College, for example, emphasizes GoTriangle commuter options as part of the Wake Tech ZOOM (Zeroing Ozone Output Measures) program, an initiative by the college to reduce its carbon footprint through participation in alternative transportation.

Where can I learn more?

The U.S. DOT Ridesharing Options Analysis and Practitioner’s Toolkit provides an overview of current ridesharing trends. It serves as a toolkit for public agencies to create ridesharing programs tailored to meet the needs of their constituency. The report also includes an index of public and private entities engaged in ridesharing.

Carpool Incentive Programs: Implementing Commuter Benefits as one of the Nation’s Best Workplaces for Commuters explains the how-to details and benefits of establishing a carpool incentive program from the perspective of an employer.

The Ridesharing Institute site provides archival information on the institute’s applied research, webinar series, and links to other research and resources.

Evidence base

Carlson D, Howard Z. Impacts of VMT reduction strategies on selected areas and groups. Seattle, WA: Washington State Department of Transportation, Office of Research & Library Services. WA-RD 751.1; 2010.

Deitrick S, Briem CP, Beach S, Fan X. Impacts of vanpooling in Pennsylvania and future opportunities. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT); 2010.

Gallivan F, Ang-Olson J, Liban CB, Kusumoto A. Cost-effective approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through public transportation in Los Angeles, California. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2011;2(2217):19–29.

Graham-Rowe E, Skippon S, Gardner B, Abraham C. Can we reduce car use and, if so, how? A review of available evidence. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 2011;45(5):401–18.

Guenin H. Suburban transportation demand management for a diverse workforce. Portland, OR: Upstream Public Health; 2013.

ICF Consulting. Performance review of transportation funds for clean air projects: Literature review. Fairfax, VA: ICF Consulting; 2006.

Levofsky A, Greenberg A. Organized dynamic ride sharing: The potential environmental benefits and the opportunity for advancing the concept. Washington, DC: Transportation Research Board 2001 Annual Meeting. Working Paper 01-0577; 2001.

Salon D, Boarnet MG, Handy S, Spears S, Tal G. How do local actions affect VMT? A critical review of the empirical evidence. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 2012;17(7):495–508.

U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). Ridesharing Options Analysis and Practitioners’ Toolkit; 2010.

Yura EA, Eisinger D, Niemeier D. A review of on-road vehicle mitigation measures. Davis, CA: University of California, Davis; 2006.