As a journalist, you're not really supposed to join things - you could be
accused of conflict of interest or playing favorites or whatever. Point taken,
but sometimes you have to make an exception.
Commuter Connect is one such exception. I have been a member of this
organization for four years. I just re-set my membership, in fact; super
simple. It doesn't cost a thing.
Cars do, though. Cars cost us plenty. From air pollution to fossil fuel
emissions warming of the planet, our national love affair with cars has
turned into a hate affair with nature. The Indianapolis area is especially
offensive when it comes to road density and carbon footprint.
I could numb you with stats, or you can just look out your car window as
you move - or don't move - along in traffic.
I know a bit about this because I ride my bike, pretty much every day, year
round, and sit at various stoplights around the city and watch cars drive by,
90% of them occupied by one single person.
That's where Commuter Connect comes in. Commuter Connect is a free
service of Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), and
it's part of a federally funded program to reduce air pollution and traffic
Just go to their web site and sign up.
It's really that simple. At that point, you have access to the system, whose
database contains you, plus 1000s of other people who are interested in
carpooling, vanpooling, using mass transit or finding a bicycle buddy. The
more people in the database, the more opportunities to, for example, carpool.
The Commuter Connect system can find folks in your general area who are
going pretty much the same general destination at pretty much the same
The success of this system becomes more palpable each year. For example,
when it comes to vanpooling, Indy-area opportunities doubled. In 2012,
some 240 people regularly rode in 20 Commuter Connect vanpools, saving
commuters money - and headaches [see commuter essays, here].
A contest was held
Last October, during Rideshare month, Commuter Connect held a contest
for people who are reducing their car miles by using public transit,
carpooling, vanpooling or bicycling.
Four hundred Central Indiana residents from 185 companies logged their
commutes onto the Commuter Connect web site anytime they didn't drive
alone in October.
The pollution reduction for just this group of people over that month was
more than 76 tons of greenhouse gases and 4.5 tons of carbon monoxide.
Overall, Commuter Connect - as of Dec. 31 - had 5,436 total commuters
on file that included: registered carpools: 956 (carpool participants in the
carpools: 2,079); registered transit riders (both IndyGo, Indy Express Bus
and other local agencies): 701; registered bicyclists: 248; vanpools: 20
(vanpool participants in the vanpools: 243).
For Rideshare month contest, Commuter Connect partnered with IndyGo,
the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority and the Indianapolis
Metropolitan Planning Organization and other transit-interested
organizations. Another piece of this transit puzzle is Kim Irwin, profiled in this
package of stories. As executive director of Alliance for Health Promotion, Irwin
heads up Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit (ICAT), dedicated to building
grassroots support to grow transit in Indiana.
Winners, including their hometowns and employers, are listed below.
Jenny Bauer, Bloomington, State of Indiana
Kristi Carlson, Bloomington, IUPUI (grand prize winner!)
Brenda DeFord, Camby, Indiana Family & Social Services Administration
Diana Roth, Camby, U.S. Defense & Accounting Service
Michelle Harden-Price, Brazil, State of Indiana
Eric Moody, Greenwood, OneAmerica
Derek Johnson, Bloomington, U.S. National Labor Relations Board
Dennis Palmer, Noblesville, Delphi
Karen Surface, Martinsville, U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Sam Cohen, Indianapolis, WellPoint
Robert Coleman, Carmel, Milliman
Matthew Dunahee, Indianapolis, Synthesis architects
Madonna Patton-Rhodes, Indianapolis, The Columbia Club
Clint Setser, Indianapolis, Ivy Tech
Indy Express Bus riders
John Kile, Cicero, Eli Lilly and Company
Carl Klutzke, Carmel, Simon Property Group
Jill Russell, Carmel, State of
Dierdre Westrate, Indianapolis, State of Indiana
Jessica Chodor, Indianapolis, Angie's List
Bradley Kottkamp, Indianapolis, Fairfield Inn & Suites-Downtown
Elyse McCulla, Indianapolis, Angie's List
Phil Perry, Indianapolis, State of Indiana
Emily Young, Indianapolis, ExactTarget
Now, let's hear their stories, and why they travel the way they do.