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When I’m not helping Atlanta commuters achieve commute-life balance, I teach yoga to help people achieve balance in other areas. And in a recent worlds-colliding moment, I discovered that one of my yoga students is also a Georgia Commute Options 25,000 Commuter Champion. Carol Ugonna, a teacher at Fickett Elementary School in Atlanta, has been carpooling daily to work for eight years.

Carol began carpooling with a teacher who has since retired.  By that time, she was so happy with sharing the ride that she recruited another teacher and encouraged him to give it a try.  Though he was hesitant at first because of the perceived loss of freedom, over time he has become Carol’s permanent daily commute partner.  Both Carol and her partner are enrolled in the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which Carol has used when things pop up in her schedule requiring her to stay after school hours.

Like all of our Commuter Champions, Carol saves quite a bit of money sharing the ride. In fact, she has saved over $16,000 by carpooling. The days that she does not have to drive she spends her time in the car grading papers, going over lesson plans and returning phone calls.  She has also earned money by logging her commutes on the Georgia Commute Options electronic logging calendar.  In recent years, she has been a $25 Prizes winner three times.  Her partner has won twice.  Carpooling has also led to both of having better attendance at work by helping them arrive earlier.

And as a student of yoga, Carol appreciates one specific benefit of carpooling above others: anxiety reduction. 

Six years ago, Carol experienced panic attack on the expressway as she was returning from work. Since then, her anxiety mounts when she even thinks of driving on the expressway — so she avoids it and uses the back roads.  She still does not drive long distances.

When I asked Carol how she deals with her driving anxiety, she surprised me with her answer.  “I use what I learned in yoga class.  I face my fear.  I know that I must drive to get to places, I simply avoid the interstate.  If I begin to feel panic, I use deep, parallel breathing.”  Parallel breath is a yogic breathing technique.  Inhalations and exhalations, each lasting the same amount of time, are done through the nose only.  Parallel breath is how the mind communicates to the body during a yoga practice.  It can also be used “off the mat” in everyday life as a means of calming the nerves and reducing anger and anxiety.

Having a partner to share the ride is also helpful in reducing Carol’s anxiety.  She just drives a short distance to meet her partner and they alternate cars (though the partner is the default designated driver).

Carol’s enthusiasm for Georgia Commute Options has caught the attention of an additional teacher at Fickett Elementary.  The teacher lives near Carol, and Carol has invited her to join the carpool.  Carol is hoping to expand her carpool to three, which would qualify the carpool for an additional benefit, the $40-$60 Gas Cards Program.

Thank you, Carol, for your contribution to reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in Atlanta.  We could use more Commuter Champions just like you!

Are you ready to start an anxiety-free commute—and win cash and prizes for it? Find a carpool or vanpool partner here and get on the road to a better commute today!

When I was transferred to Atlanta five years ago, I knew from previously living here that I had to make housing choices that worked with the MARTA rail system. I was not prepared to return to a life behind the wheel driving to work. I went online and used the rail map for MARTA to limit my search for housing. I ended up living in Alpharetta so that I could use MARTA for both a quick bus ride down to the North Springs rail station and a train the rest of the way to work.

I work in the heart of downtown Atlanta, but my 32-mile drive is now a peaceful 5 minutes behind the wheel to the Park and Ride lot at Windward Parkway.

In the five years I have been back, I have never driven to work — not once. I buy gas once or twice a month, and that is more for personal driving than the little I drive to reach MARTA. No parking fees, no gas, no stress. I think the "no stress" part is what I appreciate the most. Arriving at work relaxed and already caught up on the morning email is a nice bonus to saving pollution, gas, and vehicle expenses.

Darrell is a 25,000 Commuter Champion and works for the Social Security Administration. To learn more about the Commuter Champion program, visit

March is Women’s History Month. Throughout history, women have joined together to advance causes worth fighting for — from suffrage to civil rights to the fight against domestic violence. That’s how we know Georgia women have the power to take on a new issue facing metro Atlanta: Healthier air for our children and clearer, safer roads for our region.

It’s no secret: our region has a transportation problem. Our clogged roadways not only threaten our safety and waste our time — they also result in a build-up of air pollution that threatens the health of every breather out there. It’s hard to give our jobs and families our best when we’re hindered by traffic. It’s time to take action against the number of cars jamming our roads by taking up a very simple protest: sharing the ride! 

Think about it: By choosing to not drive alone to and from work — whether through carpooling, vanpooling, biking, walking or riding transit — you’ll be joining a movement to get cars off the road and pollutants out of our air. That’s because for every person taking an alternative to driving alone, there’s one less car out on the roads. Georgia Commute Options wants to help you do your part — and we’d even like to reward you with cash for giving it a try! If enough of us join this movement, think about the difference we could make for Metro Atlanta’s traffic and air for generations to come.

This Women’s History Month, think about all the women of action throughout history — and think about becoming one of them. Join women all over the region working for a better, healthier Atlanta, one ride at a time. And if you’d like to find other woman warriors to carpool with, you can use our online ridematching tool at! Find a ride buddy and join the movement today.

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. As a car-free Atlantan, she knows how to get creative when getting from A to B — and she’s eager to help other commuters discover their non-driving potential. Lesley’s previous credits include ad copywriting, editing, blogging and youth outreach.

This week is the 6th Annual Georgia Telework Week!  Recently, I have thought a lot about what telework means to me in terms of savings.  My commute one way is 70 miles and takes an average of 90 minutes, so the cost impact is quite evident.  Fortunately I have been able to limit my commute days to 2-3 days and spend at least one night with my very generous, in-town-living sister and her family.  Being able to telecommute a few days a week has made a difference in my bank account but has also made a difference in my sleep, sanity and relationships.

Last week, Wallet Hub, an online financial information and resource company, published an article that stated that 50 million American workers want to work from home but only 2.9 million do.  What if the rest — the 47 million — were allowed to telework even one day per week? Think about the benefits of teleworking for the employee, the employer and the environment.

Savings in Dollars

Wallet Hub also released a handy calculator to find out how much you could save. I love this sort of stuff, so I plugged in my numbers.  Based on this calculator, if I teleworked just 2 days a week, annually, I could save an average of $5,071 in gas and car costs and earn an extra $6,605 from extra work if I chose to work during the extra 3 hours I would have spent commuting. That’s a pretty significant amount of extra money!

Savings in Sleep

So on the days I commute, the alarm goes off at a jarring 4:15am — and with Atlanta traffic, I’m at my desk by usually 7:15 but more often it is 7:30ish.  On telework days, I wake up at 6:45am, a sleep savings of 2 ½ hours.  I’m at my desk and working usually by 7:30 once I’ve had my morning hugs and the kiddos are off to school. 

Savings in Sanity

When my commute begins to creep toward the 2-hour mark, my attitude and sanity usually take a turn for the worst. I am not a happy camper on either side whether it is getting to work or trying to get home in the evenings.  Strategic teleworking days have allowed me to make Alex’s baseball game or Theo’s soccer practice or to make it to my favorite gym class: Zumba.  I’m much more relaxed, which is good for my fourth point.

Savings in Relationships

Being able to telework keeps my relationships on the positive side.  It is mentally exhausting on those weeks where teleworking isn’t feasible.  The stress pours into my family.  My two boys start acting out and my husband who has been saddled with 100% of the parenting duty has had enough.  Telework days give me quality time with my family so I can throw the ball with Alex, snuggle with Theo and cook a dinner with Matt. 

My company’s willingness to allow me to telework on a weekly saves the Weber family in numerous ways.  

Charlotte Weber is an Environmental Project Manager and the Georgia Commute Options Telework Specialist. She is an avid teleworker herself, but when she's in the office there's always a basket of fresh produce by her desk to share. Have questions about teleworking or how to get a policy set up at your workplace? Email us at

What does telework look like for you? Show us and you could find your name in lights.

It’s Georgia Telework Week, and that means it’s time to enter the #MyTelework photo challenge!

We want to see your telework space. Maybe your pet keeps you company. Maybe you have an army of action figures watching your every keystroke. Whatever it is, the world needs to know about it—so we’ve created a contest just for you!


  1. Tweet OR Instagram your telework photo to @gacommute with the hashtag #MyTelework
  2. That is literally it.

At the end of Georgia Telework Week, we’ll select our First, Second and Third Place winners from the bunch. And that’s where the prizes come in.


  • First Place: Your photo on a digital billboard near where you work or live, AND $50
  • Second Place: $50 in your pocket
  • Third Place: $50 goes to you, too

Also: You can enter as many times as you want.

All we’re saying is the odds are good you could walk away from this with $50. You know what $50 buys? A lot of tunes to listen to while you work. A lot of Chinese take-out for your lunch break. A sweet pair of slippers for working in.

Ready to enter? Tweet or ‘gram your #MyTelework photos today!

Got questions? Contact me here.

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. As a car-free Atlantan, she knows how to get creative when getting from A to B — and she’s eager to help other commuters discover their non-driving potential. Lesley’s previous credits include ad copywriting, editing, blogging and youth outreach.

Teleworking can have immediate impacts on our environment, air quality, and commuter mobility, reducing vehicle emissions and strain on existing infrastructure. The projected average annual impact of one person teleworking is 2,000 fewer miles driven, over 50 hour of commute time saved, and a great reduction of smog in the air we breathe.

On February 20th, Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed this week, March 2-6, as the sixth annual Georgia Telework Week, which aligns with National Telework Week.

(Pictured from left to right: Phil Peevy, Georgia DOT; Ron Roberts, Georgia Commute Options; Jenny Schultz, Georgia Commute Options; Governor Nathan Deal; Charlotte Weber, Georgia Commute Options; Jeff Parker, Georgia Commute Options; Matt Fowler, Georgia DOT)

Many employers in the Metro Atlanta region with telework programs have seen employee increased productivity, in fact the American Management Association estimates that teleworkers are 10%-20% more productive than their office counterparts.

To learn more about the activities occurring during Georgia Telework Week, visit You can also find information on the free telework consulting and training Georgia Commute Options provides.

Ok…so maybe this isn’t true, but in honor of Georgia Telework Week, I thought it might be fun to share how my husband and I telework together.

He is pretty much a full-time teleworker unless he is traveling.  His company has an office in Buckhead, but he gets to avoid the 26-mile one-way commute and work from home most days.  I, on the other hand, try to telework once a week (per my New Year’s blog), but the onset of potential storms found me at home more than usual lately.

Teleworking with your spouse is much like sharing an office.  Luckily, I already share my actual office with a teammate, so I have a bit of experience and use this to make teleworking with my husband work smoothly.

  • Pick your work space.  We both prefer to work when others are around.  We usually both sit at the kitchen table or one of us will take over the bar area. Our kitchen has a ton of windows, and we can even sit close enough to the door to let the dogs out without having to get up from our chairs and interrupt our work. 
  • Take turns on the phone.  We have an office space upstairs, so we take turns taking phone calls and video conferences from upstairs to not interrupt the other person.  My office mate and I do this a lot, so it is nice to extend the same courtesy to your spouse.
  • Be lunch buddies.  I am the first person to try and recruit someone to grab lunch with.  The break from work to walk to the café in our building is always more fun with company (shoutout to the sweet ladies at the Northcreek Café who know my order and don’t judge me for eating cheeseburgers 3 times a week).  While at home, I can guilt my husband into making my lunch or we both break and prepare lunch together. 
  • Finish the work day. As we are both required to work 8-hour days, it is important we start and end the work day together.  Yes, we each may have to do a little overtime or hop on a late afternoon call, but once the 8-hour day is complete, the main level of the house is no longer a work space and is converted back to a living space.  If either of us have additional work to complete, we go to the office space upstairs or put on headphones so as not to be distracted by other activities in the house.

I hope these tips help you realize that teleworking at home with a spouse or roommate can be done and it can be fun, too.  Make a plan for how to handle calls and treat your telework partner like you would an office mate in your regular office. 

Reap the benefits of Georgia Telework Week and enjoy teleworking this week!

Allie Velleca is the Georgia Commute Options Program Manager. When she is isn’t at work, she is teaching dance, paper crafting, or filming Snapchats of her two greyhounds, Charlie and Larry. If you are trying to find Allie at the Georgia Commute Options office, just look for the desk with Atomic Fireballs, washi tape, and a glowing reindeer. Want to get in touch with Allie? Email her here.

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