East Bay commuters make final push to save casual carpool

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Friday, July 28, 2023
East Bay commuters make final push to save casual carpool
East Bay commuters make final push to save casual carpool as it struggles to bounce back after COVID pandemic.

ALBANY, Calif. (KGO) -- A decades-old commuting option is on the brink of extinction, but a group of East Bay commuters is making a push to keep casual carpool alive.

"We're trying to bring back casual carpool," said Albany resident, Jono Finger.

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Casual carpool is a grassroots, no-payment required system born out of convenience for East Bay commuters; drivers pick up passengers at multiple locations with two passengers being the ticket into the much speedier and cheaper carpool lane.

"We'd just come across the bridge using the carpool and I was able to get into San Francisco easily that way and that's why I loved it," said Pinole resident, Shakaylah Leonard.

"Since the '90s I used to take it just about every day going one way into the city and it was really convenient, cheaper than BART and faster than BART," said Albany resident, Michael Woo.

However, the once-popular commuting option is still struggling to come back from the pandemic.

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"I wait at the carpool line 20 minutes a day and I get picked up maybe once every two or three weeks," said Finger, noting they've tried everything from apps, social media and more. "We've tried a bunch of other things. We tried handing out flyers at BART saying here's the day we're going to start - everyone start coming on this day. We tried that for months."

Now they're turning to a survey to help get answers. "The survey has a lot of questions on it," said Finger. "What do you think will bring people back? Why do you think people aren't coming? Why are you not coming? What better questions can we ask?"

And, John Goodwin with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission says the survey is the right move.

"One gentleman has a survey he's seeking to circulate and I think that's actually an important step," said Goodwin, adding it will help answer questions about demand. "Is it passengers, is it drivers, where precisely is the demand coming from? What are the old casual carpool pickup spots that might come back sooner than others?"

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And as far as the MTC getting behind casual carpool, he says it started as a people-powered movement and is likely to stay that way.

"I think it's reasonable to assume that same kind of organic action will be required to revive casual carpooling in this emerging post-pandemic world," said Goodwin.

Fill out the casual carpool survey here.

And for more information on casual carpool visit: https://sfcasualcarpool.com/

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