This week, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2023 FAST Track trade show in Martinsville/Henry County to promote the RIDE Solutions program to the community. While there, I had the pleasure to network with a number of businesses, I met some great people from around the community, and received some valuable feedback with which to more effectively promote the program.
FAST Track is a trade show that is typically hosted on an annual basis by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce to enable companies and organizations to promote their products and services. FAST Track returned for the first time after a multi-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. Situated on the third floor of the Clock Tower building in Martinsville, the event hosted dozens of organizations and companies, small and large on the evenings of March 7th and 8th.
Among the organizations present was, of course, RIDE Solutions. As a representative of RIDE Solutions, I had the pleasure to meet many wonderful people from across our region to tell them about the program. We had a number of promotional items on-hand including pens, sticky notes, “no contact” keychains, fans, and brochures.
About RIDE Solutions
RIDE Solutions is the region’s commuter assistance program. We promote carpooling, vanpooling, transit use, bicycling and walking as modes of travel, as well as telework. One misconception I learned about during FAST Track was that we directly provide transportation. Actually, what we do is facilitate carpools through our RIDE Solutions app, and we provide incentives for people to carpool, vanpool, use transit, telework, or bike or walk as means of travel. We also publicize some great resources available to our region that sometimes get overlooked, such as our regional transit agencies and vanpool access through our partner, Commute with Enterprise.
The RIDE Solutions app is available for free download and free use (since RIDE Solutions is publicly-funded), and you can register for it by visiting our website, www.ridesolutions.org. Once at our website, select “Login/Create Account.” Then, you’ll be asked to provide your first and last name, your email, and you’ll create a password.
In our region, carpooling is a popular form of alternative transportation, given that many areas are spread out, commutes can be a bit lengthy, and few transportation options are available in most areas outside the cities of Danville and Martinsville. If you wish to carpool, this app is an exceptional tool to enable you to do that, as one of its main functions is carpool-matching. The carpool-matching function works like this:
- Let’s say you want to search for someone to carpool with as part of your commute. You’ll open the app or log on to RIDE Solutions on your PC via our (RIDE Solutions) website.
- Once you’re logged in, select “Find Rides.” After you do that, you’ll be asked to select the type of trip you’ll be taking; the choices are “For my commute,” “To an event or destination,” or “For a single trip.”
- Next, you’ll enter your starting point (which can be a specific address or just the name of a town or city) and your destination (again, a specific address or a town or city).
- At this point, the app will show you if there are any carpoolers (other RIDE Solutions members) that are going in your direction. To find out, just look for the image of the car, which should have a number just below it.
- If you see a “1” or higher number, click the car icon, and you’ll be shown some information about the carpooler, such as gender, whether they are a smoker or not, and the languages they speak.
- At this point, you can click on the person’s information profile to contact them.
The other major function of the app is to manage the incentives that you’ll be eligible for after taking trips or teleworking. Each time you take a trip (carpool, vanpool, transit, walk, bike, or telework), you’ll need to “log” your trip or telework session into the app or through your online account by logging in, selecting “Trips,” and selecting “Record Trip.” Each time you log a trip, you’ll accumulate 100 points toward incentives, on top of the 1,000 points you get for free just for signing up.
So, what kinds of incentives do your green commutes and telework sessions get you? They include the following:
- Discounts on dining
- Discounts on shopping (in-store as well as options for online shopping)
- Discounts on activities such as visiting museums or other venues
- Discounts on services
- Or use your accumulated points to enter raffles to win prizes such as gift cards
Can RIDE Solutions help your company or organization with its employees’ transportation needs?
Yes, we absolutely can serve as a great (and free) resource to help your business or organization’s employees with transportation needs! If you manage a business or organization, we encourage you to publicize our services (www.ridesolutions.org) to your staff, to provide them additional transportation resources, while improving the overall reliability of your workforce. We also maintain a partnership with Commute with Enterprise (the rental car company), to whom we can refer you for more information and/or help you to expedite a vanpool program. Furthermore, if you or your team would like to meet with me, I’d be happy to stop by, tell you a bit more about our program, and even work with you to organize a presentation or a sign-up event for your employees.
Questions I received at FAST Track
One question I was hearing while at FAST Track was whether our services extend beyond Martinsville and Henry County. The answer to that is yes! RIDE Solutions covers all of the West Piedmont Region, which includes Martinsville and Henry County, Danville and Pittsylvania County, and Franklin and Patrick Counties. Our service area goes well beyond this region, however. In addition to the West Piedmont Region, RIDE Solutions serves the Roanoke Valley, the New River Valley, and the Lynchburg region. So, you can use the app to carpool from Martinsville to Roanoke, Danville to Lynchburg, or Stuart to Christiansburg. Additionally, RIDE Solutions is under the umbrella of ConnectingVA, which is a statewide commuting platform that uses the same app system as RIDE Solutions, so you can commute anywhere in the state, carpool match, and earn incentives. Learn more about ConnectingVA by visiting https://connectingva.drpt.virginia.gov/.
Another question I received was whether RIDE Solutions can be used across state lines, such as between Virginia and North Carolina. The answer to that is yes, as long as one end of the trip is in Virginia.
Again, I encourage you to learn more about RIDE Solutions by visiting www.ridesolutions.org. For any questions, please feel free to contact me, Joe Bonanno, RIDE Solutions Regional Coordinator, at Jbonanno@wppdc.org or by phone, at (276) 638-3987. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you!