-----Original Title: Digital Hitchhiking
- Have longer distance commuters (4 to 12 mile commutes) traveling in on a major arterial pick up shorter distance commuters (0 to 4 miles) living close to that arterial.
- This scheme utilizes the commonsense notion that there are many empty seats in commute vehicles heading to the same destination.
- Hitchhike connection-making should be enhanced using RFID and cell phones.
- The challenge with today's carpool ridematching systems is that the spatial distribution of worker residences is such that the probability of forming a match is low.
- Digital hitchhiking looks first for relatively dense spatial worker corridors to design a more flexible solution. In the states, this is known as "cherry picking" or "picking the low-hanging fruit." The scheme requires the unleashing of a couple minutes of human goodness each day – people are willing to spend a limited amount of time in helping to be part of a solution where traditional solutions frustrate them.
- Technology workers have offered to write the software for this application (it's not too much work). Likely first U.S. applications of this scheme:
A) for commutes by 30,000 Microsoft employees to Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.
B) for the first leg of the commute to connect to the Washington State Bainbridge Island Ferry.
C) for students funneling to the single entrance of the University of California at Santa Cruz (at the entrance, students can connect to shuttle bus).
D) for commutes to some of the large Western U.S. military bases from off-base housing.
E) for the first leg of Washington DC slug-line commutes.
The following paper describes the concept (the concept has not been implemented yet): http://www.cities21.org/CascadiaHitchhikePaper.doc . This concept is a higher-tech evolution of the San Geronimo, California "licensed hitchhiking" system.
Quote: "I am a Microsoft employee and there are limited parking spaces at Microsoft campus. If I can save myself 5 minutes on search for the parking spot, I am willing to pickup a person or two on my way and spend those 5 minutes dropping them off at their building.
I don't mind stopping for a moment to pickup a MS employee (or Honeywell, or whoever will be there) along the way, as long as I have some indication of who they are (i.e. MS employee badge initially, or just personal knowledge later). Sharing the ride with other MS employees will be great: we can exchange ideas about the products we are working on, as well as find other mutual interests, or just to have a casual conversation. I don't expect to get paid for it in any way, and would expect to see other microsofties doing the same. I am also not an environmentalist, so I am not doing it because I want to preserve oil reserves, or to prevent air pollution. However, if it will be a side effect - I wouldn't mind.
Another reason I like the idea is that it does not require any serious commitment on my part, i.e. I don't have to do it every day, or at any specific time, it works around my schedule, as well as the schedules of the "passengers".
Scheduling can be done relatively easy, using modern technological advances, such as RFID - radio frequency identification. It is widely used now in EZ Pass systems to pay for the toll roads on the East Coast, to alert the people about arrival of the next bus/train. It is also used by major retailers (Walmart, for example) to handle the movements of the inventory. I have worked with this technology and can attest to its ease of use and relatively low cost. To write software to deliver information about availability of the carpool at certain time and location - this can be a nice project for MS intern or a side project for an employee, and will not take more than a few weeks to complete. So, if you put RFID readers in the known locations (Factoria, Coal Creek, etc), you will be able to pinpoint arrival time with a very good precision.
If enough people will signup for this idea, we can definitely decrease the congestion in the area."
Steve Raney, Transportation Consultant
Cities21.org, 1487 Pitman Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
650 329 9200