Contra Costa County SchoolPool - CA
FAST FACTS ABOUT: Contra Costa SchoolPool
Types of TDM: Mode Choice
Keywords: school pool, rideshare, transit, students
Area Demographics: Contra Costa County, one of the nine counties in the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Area.
Program: Rideshare matching service offered to parents to encourage consolidating school trips. Additional incentives to ride local transit are also provided.
Results: In 2002, 536 families joined a carpool and 27 % of carpools formed in 2001 continued carpooling in 2002. The program has also been credited with an annual vehicle trip reduction of 1.1 million and a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction of nearly 4 million.
Cost of Program: $95,000 for the 2002/2003 school year.
Staff: SchoolPool requires a full time employee for 6 months or a half-time employee on an annual basis.
Contact: Lynn Osborn, CCCAN Program Manager, www.cccan.org
Identifying the Problem – Outside of the Classroom
The SchoolPool program serves western, central, and eastern Contra Costa County, in the northern California Bay Area. Very few schools in Contra Costa County offer bus service for their students. As a result, traffic congestion within the communities surrounding the schools presents a significant mobility challenge. The average one-way trip length to or from school within Contra Costa County is about 4.3 miles. Similar to other parts of the country, crowded classrooms are forcing students to attend a school “across town” instead of in their own neighborhood.
Offering Options for School Trips
The SchoolPool program is administered by staff at the Contra Costa Commute Alternative Network (CC CAN) and has been in operation for 5 years. The goal of the SchoolPool program is to provide parents with information on neighboring students who are interested in carpooling to and from school, and to encourage the parents to establish a carpool. Carpooling is voluntary and no financial incentive is offered to the parents. Carpool ridematch lists are provided to parents with students attending the same school(s) to encourage carpooling. It is promoted among residents who have children in all public and private schools throughout the County (kindergarten through college).
For the 2002 school year (July 2002 – June 2003), carpool ridematch forms were sent directly to 150 participating schools and in turn were distributed in Fall registration packets to over 157,000 school children. Additional program outreach efforts included presentations to Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and school administration.
As ridematch applications are received, rideshare matches within the same district are found and sent within three days to the applicant. For the 2002 school year, approximately four ridematch lists were sent to each parent during the course of the first three months of the school year. Additional ridematch lists were sent throughout the year as new parents moved into the school area, or as parents’ commute patterns changed.
Parents who were unable to find a carpool partner were encouraged to have their children try transit instead of driving. To encourage participation, a $20 bus pass was provided for the student’s use. CC CAN Staff worked with County bus operators to develop bus schedule brochures for each school district. In turn the brochures were distributed with free tickets so that parents could see and experience which routes and schedules serviced their schools.
SchoolPool requires a full time employee for 6 months or a half-time employee on an annual basis. The most intense time is between April and October when registration forms are generated and distributed and most of the outreach occurs. The total program cost for SchoolPool during the 2002 school year (July 2002 to June 2003) was $95,000.
Setting a Good Example
For the 2002 school year, 710 individual ridematch requests were received from parents. Of these, 174 included siblings (essentially duplicate requests) who were also riding in the carpool, which resulted in a total of 536 unique ridematch requests. In general, parents must make two round trips to the school (one each morning, and one each afternoon) to pick up their children. These two round trips equate to four one-way trips. Allowing for 25% of the trips to be drop-offs on the way to work, it is estimated that three one-way trips are saved for each non-sibling, which in this case is a reduction of 1608 one-way trips per day.
A follow-up survey was conducted to determine the usage and satisfaction of program participants from SchoolPool 2001/2002. Of the participants who were contacted, 27% indicated that they have continued to carpool resulting in continued reduction of 816 one-way trips per day.
In addition to the carpool riders, another 1,932 students received bus passes in 2002. These passes were given to students whose parents indicated that they usually drive the student to school. Nearly 2,000 bus riders equates to a reduction of around 4,000 one-way trips per day.
Collectively, the three groups discussed above, new carpools, 2001 carpools still ridesharing, and bus riders have contributed to an annual one-way trip reduction of 1.13 million trips and a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction of 3.96 million.
In addition, due to additional school bus cutbacks in the summer of 2003, the SchoolPool Program had over 3,000 bus riding participants. The construction of a new school without bus service (even public bus service) has resulted in additional rideshare requests topping the 2002 totals.