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We love our long-term clean commuters! They’re in on a secret we’re trying to share with all of metro Atlanta:  Ditching the drive-alone commute has long-term benefits for savings, stress levels and work-life balance.

We chatted with Jason Headley, Sean Savoy, Dale Wesson, and Ryan Walker who work in Chick-fil-A’s corporate IT department and have been carpooling together for more than 10 years. Take a look and think about how carpooling could change your work life!

Tell us when you got started carpooling, and why.

Our carpool was started back in 2006 as a result of high gas prices. We were looking for ways to stop spending so much money on gas. Jason Headley emailed several people in the IT department who live in the Newnan area and asked if anyone was interested in carpooling. A core group of five of us has continued carpooling for years. Three of our four guys live in the same neighborhood. The fourth guy drives about ten minutes to meet us each day at 8:00 am. We are back around 5:45-6:00 each day.

What do you like most about your commute?

Personally, I like the social aspect, the ability to bounce ideas off the other guys, and the occasional quiet days.

What benefits have you seen from not driving alone?

Saving money is, by far, the biggest benefit of our carpool to us. (Most of the guys in our carpool have a tendency toward being “cheap.”) We have better work-life balance than we had before carpooling. We are much more likely to leave the office at a consistent time each day. And we have become good friends over the years. You get to know someone pretty well after spending an hour a day with them for ten years. We take time to pray for each other and what is going on in our lives. We have unofficially elected one of our guys to be our “Carpool Chaplain."

What do you do while you carpool?

We talk about our families and what is going on in our lives. We have formed strong friendships over a ten-year period. Sometimes the commute is a quiet ride. We’re all drained from working all day and don’t say much of anything during the commute. Occasionally someone will fall asleep while riding.

A lot of times, one or more guys in our carpool are working during the commute; it’s not unusual to see one or more laptops open. With improvements in technology, we can connect into the office while riding in the car. We also have lots of work discussions or meetings that we just can’t find time for during the work day. Since we all work in the IT department, we can discuss current projects or issues. Carpooling allows us to bounce ideas off one another. It is safe to say the company gets several more hours of productivity from us each week as a direct result of our carpool. 

How does this setup sound to you, commuters? Would you like your commute to look more like this one — savings, naps, work-life balance and all? We can help. Take the first step toward finding your own carpool buddies today! Find a ridematch today.



   

Driving Alone is Hurting Georgians’ Health

We’ve all read articles about how long commutes are bad news for health. But those studies have never been Georgia-specific…until now. A recent study ranked Georgia’s healthiest (and unhealthiest) counties, and as it turns out, sitting alone in the car for an hour each day has a pretty disastrous effect on your well-being. Yikes.

In a fascinating turn, it’s not just the sitting that’s making us unhealthy—it’s the “alone” part of “drive alone commute.” Interacting with people is a significant health-improver, and the solo drive to work isn’t cutting it.

Lucky for metro Atlanta, it’s easy to add some human contact to your commute. Carpooling and vanpooling are just what the doctor ordered! Find a ridematch here.

Rockdale Teens Have Ideas for a Better Atlanta

Rockdale County’s awesome crop of high schoolers jumped in to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) youth leadership program and presented ideas for improving metro Atlanta to the ARC board last week. Impressive.

Think your child’s school would be interested in showing kids the value of a clean commute? Get to know our Georgia Commute Schools program!

Don’t Block Intersections — Ever.

Ever misjudged the amount of time you had before a light changed, pulled forward with your line of cars, and suddenly found yourself blocking an intersection at rush hour?

Yeah, you don’t want to be that guy.

And in fact, it’s illegal to be that guy. Georgia law says you can be fined up to $500 for entering an intersection without enough space to clear it.

Check out this new campaign just launched in the north Perimeter area to get the word out about block-free intersections

(Also, remember that one solution to blocked intersections is fewer cars on the road! Learn how to start a carpool or vanpool here.)



What can you do with $5 a Day?

  • Upgrade your latte from a tall to a venti
  • Finally try out a mobile app that costs money
  • Take two trips on MARTA
  • Buy any of these items
  • Two words: extra cheese
  • Grab a couple gallons of gas (But you may find that you need less of it than usual. Read on.)

What little luxuries can an extra $5 add to your day? Switch up your commute and you’ll have the chance to find out. For a limited time starting November 1st, you can earn $5 a day just for commuting to work. All you’ve got to do is switch from driving alone to a clean commute like carpooling, vanpooling, teleworking, taking transit, walking or biking.

That’s it! Start using an alternative to driving alone, and we’ll give you $5 a day — up to $150.

Is your commute worth $5 to you? Visit GaCommuteOptions.com/GimmeFive to learn more and apply today! 

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. You can get in touch with Lesley here.



Most of us spend at least 30 minutes on the road to work. What can you do to pass the time? Here are ten suggestions:

  1. Read
  2. Text
  3. Tweet
  4. Eat
  5. Make a grocery list
  6. Sleep
  7. Work
  8. Learn a new language
  9. Candy Crush
  10. Car yoga

Those are just ten ideas. But you know what doesn’t have to be on the list? Driving.

Sharing the ride takes your hands off the wheel and frees up your time for anything else you’d like to do. You could spend those 30 minutes staring at brake lights ahead, or you could turn it into free time instead. Ready to get a ride buddy and get your life back? Find one here.

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. You can get in touch with Lesley here.



Think cycling’s not catching on in Atlanta? Think again! From 2000 to 2012, Metro Atlanta saw a 166% increase in bicycle commutes.

But being a bike commuter doesn’t always mean biking exclusively. Many pedal-powered commuters combine biking with transit or carpooling to make up a multi-modal power commute. If riding your bike all the way into work seems like too much of a haul, have no fear — supplementing your bike commute with carpooling or using MARTA, CCT, Xpress, or Gwinnett County Transit can help you get the most out of Metro Atlanta’s roads — and get you where you’re going safely and efficiently. And biking at least the first or last couple of miles to work is something just about everyone can do. By combining your commute, you can cut down car expenses, reduce air pollution and congestion, and have a healthier trip.

If you take your bike on transit, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Avoid boarding MARTA trains that are full with your bike in hand. The very front and very back of the train are good places to look for an uncrowded car.
  • On CCT, Xpress, MARTA and Gwinnett County Transit, buses are outfitted with bike racks up front that are easy to access (bike are not allowed inside buses).
  • Each bus can only handle two bicycles at one time — first come, first served.
  • Watch this video to see how to load your bike on a bus— it’s easy!

And if you’re combining cycling and carpooling, remember these helpful pointers:

  • If you’re meeting up with your carpool partner, invest in a foldable bike rack they can keep in their car.
  • Georgia Commute Options can assist with finding the perfect carpool partner for your lifestyle — fellow cyclist or otherwise.
  • Check your route and the weather ahead of time. It can save time and is courteous to your carpool partner who might be waiting.

If you’re looking for a great motivator to get you started, the Atlanta Bike Challenge is the perfect opportunity! Ride your bike to the store, around the neighborhood, or on your lunch break to build up to riding to work. Sign up and learn more at ATLBikeChallenge.com!

Lee has been working on Georgia Commute Options programs for three years and manages the outreach team. She has an almost-one-year-old so she can relate to the issues metro Atlantans run into with clean commuting and child care. Originally from Mississippi, Lee brings southern and sassy charm to our team. To connect with Lee, email her at LeeW@GaCommuteOptions.com.



Her name was Alexandra. She was my best friend in first grade. We rode the school bus together every day that year. She sat by the window, and I sat by the aisle. We talked about everything. Why did Gary call the teacher “mom”? Did Matt eat the chicken nugget after it dropped on the ground? Is Santa Claus the same person as mom and dad?  

Anyway, it’s Back to School time again as school buses return to roads all around Atlanta. Students are too busy with homework to read this post — which is why I am writing to parents and teachers!

When you were a kid in a school bus, traffic is the best thing ever! It means more time with your best friend before you have to get off the bus and start homework.

Now that we are adults, our best friends don’t always sit next to us, and our priority is getting home stress-free.

We may be too old for those yellow school busses, but we are never too old to start carpooling to work. In fact, there hasn’t ever been a better time to start riding with friends to work!

  • If you carpool to work, you can earn monthly gas cards from Georgia Commute Options — $40 a month for carpools of three people, and $60 a month for carpools of four or more people —  for 12 months within a 3-year period.
  • Not sure who to ‘pool with? Georgia Commute Options provides a free ridematching service to help you find carpool partners. We have thousands in our database looking for the same thing, and some might live, work, or send their kids to school near you.
  • If you’re trying carpooling for the first time, you can earn $3 a day — up to $100! That’s a lot of school lunches.
  • If you couldn’t tell, Georgia Commute Options is here to help you save money and earn even more. For more information on all of the incentive programs available to metro Atlanta commuters, click here.

If car-rider lines are too long at your school, or if you’d like to get your kids thinking more about how cars affect healthy air, let us know! We have school partnerships all across Atlanta and would love to partner with your local school.

Chris Schneck is the School Accounts Manager for Georgia Commute Options. You can get in touch with Chris and get him out to your local school here.



Having a long commute is one thing, but doing it alone is a completely different beast. When you ride alone, you lose money. But more importantly, you lose time — and let’s be real, time is money. If you haven’t noticed, you’re getting your fair share of sitting in, whether you’re already sharing the ride into work on a carpool or riding the bus or train, or if you’re driving solo. All that sitting means more time to get things done. So whether you’re already ridesharing or are thinking about it, here are five fabulous things you can do with all that sitting time:

  1. Find knowledge. Catch up for your book club or branch out to a new, unexplored genre. Some of the books topping the New York Times Best Seller list you might want to check out include The Girl on the Train, The Wright Brothers, and Leaving Time.
  2. Make your menu. Use your Food Network, Pinterest, or AllRecipes app to plan your menu for the week. No more last-minute grocery runs for you!
  3. Stay connected. Haven’t talked to your college roommate in ages? Or do you need to plan who is taking who to the gymnastics meet and soccer game this weekend? Text or email whoever you need to get caught up since you can’t do that behind the wheel.
  4. Go on an adventure. Your commute will fly by with this Twitter throw-back to the interactive “Choose your own Adventure” books.
  5. Netflix. This site accounts for 35% of U.S. internet traffic, so why not hop on board during your commute? They have a slew of original shows as well as all of the oldies but goodies.

Look at all you can do instead of sitting behind the wheel. And we can help get you on the road to an improved and happier commute. Reach out at Info@GaCommuteOptions.com to see what commute mode is right for you.

Jenny Schultz is a Communications Specialist working on the Georgia Commute Options program. When she's not at work, she spends most of her time baking, dancing, and pretending to paint her house. Jenny has a pretty sweet telework space complete with Ikea furniture, a stability ball, and a fantastic view of her backyard.



Looking for easy ways to save money or be less stressed? Why not switching up your commute a bit? A new, cleaner commute can be super fun, save some money, put more dough in your pocket, and help relieve some of your daily stress. And it’s just a mouse click away. Georgia Commute Options can help get your started with a variety of options for clean commuting.

Carpooling

  • If you have a carpool of three people, you can earn a $40 gas card, and if you carpool with four or more people, you can earn a $60 gas card — each month you carpool for 12 months within a 3-year period.
  • Georgia Commute Options provides a free ridematching service to help you find carpool partners. We have thousands in our database looking for the same thing, and some might live or work near you.

Vanpooling

  • Vanpooling allows you to ride in a van along with 7-15 other clean commuters.
  • Referring a new vanpool rider earns you $50 after the new rider has completed three consecutive months in a vanpool. And you can refer as many new riders as you want, for as long as you are vanpooling.

Transit

  • When you take transit to work and log your trips online, you are entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift card each month.
  • Several employers offer discounted transit passes or help you purchase them with pre-tax dollars. Check with your HR department to see if you qualify.

Telework

  • Many employers allow you to work from home, which can increase your productivity and reduce your stress levels.
  • When you log your telework days with Georgia Commute Options, you are entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift card each month. 1 in 10 win!

Compressed Work Week

  • Some employees work a Compressed Work Week, which means compressing a full 40 hours into fewer than five days, giving you at least one less day to commute to and from work.

Bike/Walk

  • Fit in your workout as part of your commute, enjoy an emissions-free trip, and avoid sitting in traffic.
  • When you log those trips, even if it’s just part of the way, you are entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift card each month.

If you couldn’t tell, Georgia Commute Options is here to help you save money and earn even more. For more information on all of the incentive programs available to metro Atlanta commuters, click here.

Victoria is the Junior Communications Specialist for the Georgia Commute Options team - helping out with writing, editing, and maintaining all our important deadline schedules. She's a big fan of carpooling and Reese's. Want to get in touch with Victoria? Click here.



It’s 2015. You’ve probably already noted that we’re living in the year Marty and Doc jumped forward to in the second Back to the Future film. But Marty and Doc’s 2015 was packed with hover boards and flying cars, and our 2015…isn’t.

Until now.

Rumor has it, flying cars are going to rolling off the assembly lines very, very soon. So soon, in fact, that it’s time to be proactive. If you can share the ride on the road, you can share it in the sky — start planning your flying carpool now.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment

What are the best ways to fly a friendly carpool? Read on.

Be a courteous flyer. Just because you’re in the air doesn't mean you shouldn't use your turn signal. Also, don’t tailgate, and don’t be too horn-happy. Let’s drive the friendly skies.

Be punctual.  Your car may fly now — but so does time. Plan your morning so you have plenty of time to pick up your carpoolers. No one likes to be late to work, whether by land or by air.

Make your (flying) carpooling serve one purpose. It may be tempting to make bunch of pit stops — especially now that you can fly over treetops to pick up your dry cleaning. But your carpool buddies likely just want to touch down at work or home; don’t drag them along on your errands.

Log your (flying) commute to win prizes! If you’re sharing the ride — whether it’s on the road or in the air — you can win cash and prizes from Georgia Commute Options! So log those flying carpool rides and watch the rewards fly in. Get started here.

Now that flying cars are on the horizon, our commutes are going to look a lot different. But sharing the ride never stops making sense! Start your flying carpool today.

[Editor’s note: April Fool’s. If flying cars are your thing, looks like you’ll be waiting a bit longer. You’ll have to earn those Georgia Commute Options prizes on the plain old road!]

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. You can get in touch with Lesley here.



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!



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