TBARTA says their school carpool program saves parents commuting time and money

02/07/12 Olivia Kabat
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Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority is looking to expand their school car-pooling program to more schools in other counties. TBARTA’s program currently has 1,200 parents registered.

The School Pool program allows parents to form carpools so commuters share the responsibility of driving students to school. Amy Ellis, Director of Communications for TBARTA says the program matches parents and their kids with other families for carpooling by using their computerized ridesharing software.

“We currently have students and parents registered in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. It’s a total of 37 schools in the two counties and we’ve got about 1,200 different families that participate.”

According to Ellis the program was established in Hillsborough and Pinellas County schools through working with school principals and parent-teacher organizations.

“It’s something that we do in-house. There’s really not a cost associated with it. It’s just a really great way to help parents reduce their driving that they have to do and it’s no cost to them and it’s really little no cost to us.”

Ellis say the program has been beneficial to schools in terms of campus congestion and improved air quality from reduced pollution. TBARTA has also applied for grant funding for online registration and accommodations for students who walk or bike to school.

“We’re really pleased. It started in 2003 and just in the last year, probably due to gas prices, we’ve seen an 20% increase in the number of parents that are signing up. It’s two counties now and we’d like it eventually to be in our complete TBARTA region which is seven counties from Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco to Pinellas and Hillsborough and down to Sarasota, Manatee. The great thing is, the schools see it as a win-win. It’s an opportunity to help they’re parents but it’s also beneficial to the school in terms of that congestion time.”

Ellis says at Clearwater Fundamental School more than 200 families enjoy the many benefits of school carpooling through this free program. Parents and parent-teacher organizations who are interested in starting a School Pool Program can contact TBARTA for more information.

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