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Houston commuters take advantage of transportation programs

Rising gas prices a factor

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As gas prices continue to rise, H-GAC’s Commute Solutions program has seen increased public participation, according to

Driving in Houston can hurt the pocketbook lately which is why the Houston-Galveston Area Council offers alternative solutions for commuters battling escalating gas prices.

Shelley Whitworth, HGAC air quality program manager, has seen an increase in people researching commute alternatives. From METRO to carpooling and telecommuting, people have options she said.

METRO is experiencing a more than five percent increase in ridership during early 2012 according to HGAC. Van services and additional routes make it more appealing especially for outlying areas. Riders from Fort Bend County to The Woodlands can access METRO’s 29 Park & Ride lots and 19 Transit Centers to access downtown, Greenway Plaza, Texas Medical Center and other various places. Most connect to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in the nearly 1,300 mile service area also available for use.

“We’re promoting routes to go even further especially with gas prices gearing up. People are looking to cut expenses,” Whitworth said.

Another choice is the NuRide program, which pairs members with other carpool partners. It also logs commute alternative trips such as biking, walking, transit, vanpool, and telework experiences so members can receive points for coupons from local retailers.

NuRide has seen nearly 30 percent increase in new members since January 2012. Whitworth said persons interested can fill out an application to start gaining points towards entertainment and retail discounts. Several routes throughout the city participate in NuRide according to Whitworth.

The third option for commuters is teleworking/telecommuting possibly on a flexible schedule per employer. HGAC works with several professional positions such as jobs in the Texas Medical Center and various accounting and law firms.

“When we’re contacted, we reach out to go help set up these programs,” Whitworth said. “There are teleworking program guidelines that can be set up with policies. We’re seeing participation rising. It’s pretty historical.”

A final suggestion by HGAC is maintaining your vehicle. “Cars operating efficiently don’t waste gas. Don’t top off the tank because the gas will evaporate out,” Whitworth added.


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