Ride matching portal eases Ottawa commutes

The City of Ottawa and Transport Canada are hoping theenvironment and commuters in Ottawa-Gatineau will reap benefitsfrom the newly launched website ottawaridematch.com.

Although there are already websites that match commuters inOttawa, this one is different according to Bob Streicher, managerof Mobility and Area Traffic Management for the city.

“This is a map based system so that you can actually verifypeoples commuting locations on a map,” he said. “There is a fairbit of flexibility here where you can search by male/female,smokers/non-smokers. The most valuable one is that you can searchby employer/employee group for others that work for the sameemployer as you.”

Such ride matching capabilities are well-suited to the largenumber of federal employees in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, which iswhy Transport Canada got involved, according to Saleem Sattar,environmental manager, Transport Canada.

Sattar said there are specific filters built in for federalemployees so they can search within their own department, their ownworkplace, or in the federal government as a whole.

“One of the main reasons we did that is because a lot of peoplefeel more comfortable sharing a carpool with another federalemployee as opposed to a stranger in another workplace or sector,”he said.

Commuters can register with their work email or a regular email,according to Streicher. Using a work email is a measure whichensures that people searching within their workplace are gettingmatched with people who actually work there.

“Of prime importance to us is people’s personal security this issomething like a public notice board where you might look for aride,” he said. “But the information you put into the system issecure, and it’s not shared with others, other then your first nameand email address, then it’s up to you to work out thedetails.”

Ottawaridematch.com matches people based on close origin anddestination points, similar working hours and compatible carpoolingpreferences. Its default search is within two kilometers from wherethe commuter lives or works, or two kilometers along the route theytake to work route, but parameters can be changed to suit userpreferences.

Streicher said the site is part of the City of Ottawa’sTravelWise initiative, and is an alternative to driving alone thecity is presenting to commuters.

The site had its official launch Friday, May, 26 and by themorning of Tuesday, May, 31 there were 130 registered members,according to Streicher.

He said that is “pretty good” for a short time span and the cityis continuing to expand advertising for the site with radio adswhich just began airing and bus ads coming soon.