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Palo Alto Subsidizes Carpoolers' Commute Into City

PALO ALTO (KPIX) -- Deepthi Harikrishnan of Fremont and Vineet Gupta of Newark are new to carpooling. Both work at VMWare in the Stanford Research Park.

They got matched through Scoop, a San Francisco-based carpooling app.

Harikrishnan, the driver, gets paid four dollars each way. Normally, the rider pays about five to six dollars a trip but Gupta pays only a dollar. That's because the city of Palo Alto, the nonprofit Traffic Management Association and Stanford Research Park are subsidizing the carpooling program.

So, if you are a city employee or if you go to or from downtown or the research park using Scoop you only pay a buck. The app's already being used in Pleasanton, San Francisco and San Jose.

"Our focus is on the people who feel the most pain in their daily commute ... Our average trip is 20 miles or more," said Jon Sadow, Scoop's co-founder.

Nine out of ten people who work in Palo Alto live outside the city and surveys show about half of Palo Alto's downtown employees drive to work alone. The city wants to reduce that number by a third in the next three to five years.

Palo Alto's assistant city manager Suzanne Mason says about a thousand people have registered with the carpooling program.

"We want to see how popular it is. We want to see how much we can really change commuter patterns," Mason said.

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