THE Gippy Ride Share Steering Committee will decide this month whether to continue the ride sharing project.
Promising savings of money and petrol, Gippy Ride Share is a public car pool open to anyone in Gippsland.
It commenced as a trial project in June 2012, a joint initiative of the Gippsland Transport Connections Network, which involves all six Gippsland municipalities. South Gippsland has been the lead agent for this initiative, which is funded by the Victorian Government.
As community strengthening staff Ned Dennis and Sophie Dixon explained at a recent briefing to South Gippsland Shire Council, the project is aimed at improving transport options for regional and rural people.
“By sharing your ride to work or other journey activities with someone else, you can then share your travel costs with the other person making a contribution towards your petrol. This could potentially save you $20 to $50 per week depending on how many times you share a ride and what distance is travelled.”
Steering committee members report that there has been increased informal ride sharing within their organisations and connected networks as a result of the wide promotion of the Gippy Ride Share project.
The program is web based, inviting people to register their journey on line, with the intention of arranging matches with people undertaking similar journeys.
A commercial web service operator manages and maintains the website, and shire community strengthening staff monitor the website and respond to requests from prospective and current users about how to use the service or problems they encounter.
The scheme offers far reaching and long term benefits, such as improving the ability to attend training activities, employment opportunities and health services, as well as access to recreation, cultural and social events and activities.
Greater car sharing can also lead to less pressure on parking and lead to individuals having more funds for essential living costs and discretionary spending.
The site currently has over 490 registered participants from across Gippsland, is attracting about two new members per week and over 300 separate journeys have been registered.
Potential kilometres saved if all rides are activated is 521,000. Based on surveys undertaken with registered users, it is reasonable to estimate that 20 per cent have been successful, which equates to at least 100,000 kilometres saved to date.
Nearly 4000 individuals have visited the site, with a 12 per cent conversion rate to becoming registered members.
The total cost for the two-year trial project will be $172,800. The funds have come from State Government grants of $160,000 and contributions from Gippsland Transport Connections projects to the value of $12,800. The major expenditure has been on development and maintenance of the website, promotion of the service, and project officer time to develop the service and implement the trial.
The project is particularly valuable for young people who can’t drive or don’t have a car, so Sophie Dixon said she was glad to report that GippSport and the South Gippsland Bass Coast Local Learning and Employment Network (SGBCLLEN) have been very supportive.
Cr Mohya Davies asked about the potential for tourists to make use of the scheme and was told that yes, the scheme has that flexibility.
The contract completion date is June 2014. There is no obligation on Council to continue the service beyond that time. New participants are still welcome to join. Simply register your travel journey details as a driver, rider (or both) on the Gippy Ride Share website at www.gippyrideshare.com.au.