Carpool companies target D.C. area

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Local,Transportation,Liz Essley

A new company in the D.C. area is calling itself the "eBay for carpoolers."

Amovens lets commuters and road-trippers sell seats in their cars or buy seats in others' cars -- for trips ranging from daily commutes to weekend cruises to New York City.

"It's set up like an eBay for carpoolers. Instead of putting an object online for sale, you can say, 'I'm going to travel from D.C. to Philly' or 'I've got a regular commute five days a week' ... however you want to set it up," said the company's U.S. director, Jef Cozza.

The site, us.amovens.com, is free, along with a mobile app.

Amovens launched in the United States in August, after setting up operations in Spain and Sweden. The company is focusing its American efforts on the Washington region, Cozza said, where so far it has about 200 registered users.

"We know traffic is a huge problem in D.C.," Cozza said. "Public transportation doesn't necessarily serve all the needs of that community."

Cozza says the region's car pools and slug lines -- areas where commuters can pick up free rides from drivers who want to use the faster lanes for carpoolers -- aren't competition, but rather raise awareness of his company.

"Instead of standing in line for the slug line, you can arrange your slug line online and not have to stand in the rain," he said. "I don't think you can have too many transportation options right now. I don't think it's the sort of situation where there's a limited number of people and all this transportation capacity."

Amovens isn't the first online car pool company to crop up in the traffic-clogged Washington area. Commuters are looking up websites such as vRide.com, eRideShare.com, carpooling.com and Craigslist and apps such as RideShare4less to catch cheaper rides to work. And for many, the environmental benefits are also a perk.

"Every vRide vanpool takes, on average, nine cars off the road," vRide CEO Ann Fandozzi said in a statement. "That's nine cars less of emission, that's nine cars less of fuel consumption, that's nine cars less of parking infrastructure, of congestion on the roads for every single vanpool out there."

About 11 percent of the region's workforce already carpools to work, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which offers a ride-matching database for traditional car and van pools.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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