Few drivers carpooling

An online networking service to encourage carpooling in the region has gone largely unnoticed since it was introduced to Summerlanders in spring.

An online networking service to encourage carpooling in the region has gone largely unnoticed since it was introduced to Summerlanders in spring.

Julie McGuire, climate action coordinator for Summerland, said only 12 people in Summerland have signed up at Carpool.ca since the service became available here.

Elsewhere in the South Okanagan, the response has been equally lacklustre.

In Penticton, 43 people have joined, in Oliver, four have signed up and in Oliver, one has signed up.

Meanwhile, in Kelowna, 406 people have signed on while Peachland has 14 registered users and Vernon has 234 participants.

With the low response in the South Okanagan, McGuire said it is hard to arrange carpooling for those who are interested.

“I signed up to find a Penticton to Summerland match and I haven’t found a ride yet,” she said.

She wonders why the service has not become more popular.

“Maybe it’s because gas prices aren’t high enough yet,” she said.

While some in the region have work schedules which deviate from the traditional Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work week, McGuire said carpooling still makes sense.

She said those who can use a carpool system once or twice a week will still see savings.

According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian household spends more than $12,000 a year on transportation.

Driving just 12,000 kilometres a year will have costs of $8,000 to $10,000 annually, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

“At times when people are really trying to watch their pennies, carpooling is an easy way to reduce costs on fuel and vehicle maintenance.”

She added that employers could do much to promote carpooling among their employees.

The Okanagan’s fifth annual Carpool Week promotion will be held Oct. 24 to 28 and is sponsored by ICBC.

McGuire hopes the week will help to expose motorists to a transportation alternative.

Promoters of carpooling say it is a simple way to save money and reduce greenhouse gases.

“It’s important to note that carpooling doesn’t require a large commitment,” said Anne Marie Thornton, manager of Carpool.ca.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the carpool initiative also shows the importance of cars in the community.

“We really realize how important the car is. Driving is very personal,” she said. “Cars are not something we’re going to do without.”

At the same time, she said carpooling is a way for people in the community to help each other out, if they can develop the habit.