July 21, 2008

Fight on Gas Prices Goes Local With Car-Pooling Service

By Stephen T. Watson, The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Jul. 21--Frustrated by endlessly rising gas prices, Ron Tebo turned to the Web to try to do something about it.

The West Seneca resident set up a Web site -- www.wnycarpool.com -- for workers who want to find a carpooling partner to cut down their gas use. "Instead of moaning about it, I wanted to do something positive and help the community," said Tebo, who works as a Web master for the Professional Bartending Schools of America.

His site, one of a growing number of local and national online car-pooling forums, has about 360 registered users and 115 postings from people seeking driving partners since it launched in May.

The drivers who posted on the site are starting their commutes from as far away as the Rochester area, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier, said Tebo, who previously set up a Web site, www.ipranked.com , that collected videos of pranks. Users can post a request on www.wnycarpool.com that includes the starting time, beginning and ending locations, a map from Google that marks the starting point, the time they leave work and their preferences for a riding partner. Users can search through the postings by ZIP code, city or town to find a match. The site also has safety advice for potential car-poolers, and in the future will have more tips on how to save money on gas and get better gas mileage.

Tebo said he doesn't know exactly how many users have found a driving partner through his site, because not everyone announces their success. But one user who has a Dunkirk-to- Buffalo commute found several matches, Tebo said.

Car-pooling traditionally hasn't been a popular concept in Western New York and may not really catch on in Buffalo until gas hits $6 a gallon, he said.

"People are hesitant to change," said Tebo, who works from home but does try to combine trips or ride his bicycle when he can because he drives a gas-guzzling Dodge Durango SUV.

He thinks the idea of car-pooling is becoming more appealing to drivers who appreciate the chance to save hundreds of dollars a month and be more environmentally-friendly.

Getting more cars off the road reduces both our dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

In addition to Tebo's site, www.goodgoingwny.com offers information about a range of transportation alternatives for commuters that includes a car-pooling forum. National car-pooling sites with a local presence include ride-search. com and erideshare.com.

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