By Stephanie Malench
With gas prices increasing, and companies facing employee retention issues, a local transportation company has a solution. RideFinders, a program operated by Madison County Transit since 1994, has both a carpool program and a van pool program the serves the Illinois counties of Jersey, Madison, St. Clair, and Monroe and the Missouri counties of St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Louis, and St. Louis City.
Benefits of the RideFinders Program include less stress, time to relax, saving thousands of dollars on gas each year, increasing the trade-in value of personal vehicles 15-20% by putting commute miles on the van, and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by 4.6 metric tons each year for each vehicle taken off the road.
Drivers interested in either a car pool (two or more persons using their own vehicles) or vanpool (six or more passengers who use a RideFinders van) can create a free profile at www.RideFinders.org and enter which type of pool they are interested in, their addresses of origin and destination, how far off the shortest path they are willing to go to pick up another commuter, and the hours they work with a window of how many minutes they have to be at or leave work.
Commuters interested in the van pool pay a nominal fee per rider depending on how many riders there are (discount for 10 or more vanpoolers) and the daily round-trip commute milage. The fee covers the gas, insurance, and maintenance of the van. A full-time employee can pay as little as $36 each month (assuming 10 riders) or $60 per month assuming six to nine riders).
Amanda Schomaker, Director of Marketing and Communications for Madison Country Transit says there are currently 115 riders in the vanpools, just over half the amount that were ridesharing pre-COVID, and a fleet of 50 vans.
As part of their Clean Commute Commitment, RideFinders asks that riders wear a mask, keep disinfecting spray or wipes in the vehicle, avoid using the recirculated air option in the vehicles, and clean/disinfect commonly touched surfaces in the vehicle at the beginning and end of each shift and between transporting passengers.
A driver and back up driver undergo a background check by RideFinders and the group then decides the time and location to pick up each of the riders. A number of discretionary miles per month are allowed if the who group wasn’t to stop at a grocery store, pharmacy, or library along the established route.
Both the carpool and van pool programs include a “Guaranteed Ride Home” in the event the driver or one of the group members has an emergency and has to leave early. RideFinders cover the cost of a taxi or reimburse members of the group up to $125 four times a year if the participants need to leave or the driver must leave for an emergency.
RideFinders can also help employers meet their workforce transportation needs. They will come to your business and survey your employees to see how many are interested in the program. Holten Meats in Sauget had difficulty with finding enough employees to run all three shifts effectively and with absenteeism. Since signing up for RideFinders six months ago, their team has grown 15% and absenteeism has shrunk by 15%. Because they don’t have to use employees from temporary service agencies, they expect to save $225,000 each year.
To schedule a meeting with your company and RideFinders, or for help signing up, call (314)621-7433.