Increasing carpooling in Vermont : opportunities and obstacles.
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Increasing carpooling in Vermont : opportunities and obstacles.

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    • Abstract:
      Growth in car ownership, dispersed land settlement patterns, highway investments, travel behavior and

      socio‐economic changes have all contributed to a dramatic increase in automobile use in the U.S. over

      the last 80 years.1 The resulting health, environmental and energy impacts related to automobile

      dependence are of concern to policy‐makers in the US and Vermont. 2 Proposed solutions range from

      increasing the use of public transportation, walking and biking, shifting vehicle fuels from petroleum to

      other sources or even encouraging changes in the built environment to reduce car trips.3


      One proposed solution is to increase the number of people in each vehicle which does not require

      extensive investment of public capital, relying instead on the existing infrastructure and already owned

      private automobiles.4 Carpooling can increase personal mobility, access to services, reduce

      environmental and infrastructure impacts, reduce individual transportation costs and save energy. For

      example, average vehicle occupancy rates in the US for work trips are about 1.1 per vehicle, down from

      1.3 in 1977. Slight increases in the number of people per vehicle could provide the same energy savings

      as switching to an alternative fuel, without building new fueling stations or making any new additional


      However, the percentage of commuters carpooling has significantly decreased since 1980 both

      nationally and in Vermont. Factors in that decline include increasing car ownership, decreases in

      household size, changes in travel behavior, the relatively low cost of energy and other socio‐

      demographic changes. The purpose of this research is to examine potential obstacles and opportunities

      to increasing carpooling for the journey‐to‐work commute in Vermont and provide research‐based

      information for state policy‐makers regarding programs and policies designed to increase carpooling in

      Vermont. 6

      This research is jointly funded through the VTrans Efficient Transportation Systems project and the UVM

      Transportation Research Center (TRC) Signature Focus Area Transportation Energy and System

      Efficiency. In this report, we focus on the GoVermont program – a state managed rideshare matching

      program – as a window into the obstacles and opportunities to increasing carpooling in Vermont. We

      conducted an initial survey of 370 GoVermont participants and then conducted four in‐depth

      conversations with 25 of those respondents. Researchers also reviewed GoVermont materials, previous

      research on carpooling and examined data from the US Census and NHTS data on travel behavior at the

      individual and household level.  

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