You have permission to edit this article.

Smart transit: Commuter Connect

  • Updated
  • 2 min to read

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

IndyGo riders

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

Bicycle commuters

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.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.










Society & Individual