Ocean County Press Release

OCEAN COUNTY employees can take a bite out of their gasoline bill and help protect the environment through a new carpooling initiative set to begin in September.

The Ocean County Transportation Department (Ocean Ride) has teamed up with COAST TMA, a non-profit transportation management association, to begin the voluntary wecommute car pool campaign.

"Car pooling can mean a big savings for everyone," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. "Two people sharing a ride from Manahawkin to Toms River could save almost $6 a day in gasoline alone."

Vicari said the program will begin with county government employees and employees of the Ocean County Health Department and Board of Social Services.

"That's more than 2,700 employees," Vicari said. "If even a small percentage of them carpool, we're taking a significant number of vehicles off of our roads and highways every day."

Later in September, the program will be expanded to include students and staff at Ocean County College. Eventually, municipal governments, schools districts and even private employers may be added, Vicari said.

While a previous effort in 2005 to interest county employees in carpooling generated little attention, Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to Ocean Ride, said the time is now right for a new emphasis on sharing a ride.

"Today, a gallon of gas is almost double what it was several years ago," Little said. "People are also more aware of the importance of going green and protecting the environment."

There will also be an extra incentive for county employees willing to ride with others. Any employee who carpools at least 24 days in a two month period may be eligible for a one-time $100 gas card supplied by the state Department of Transportation.

Freeholder James F. Lacey, who sits on the county's Transportation Advisory Board, said carpooling is strictly voluntary.

"Employees will continue to use their private vehicles to travel to and from work," he said. "They will also continue to be responsible for their own motor vehicle insurance."

Additional information will be posted on the county's website at www.co.ocean.nj.us or at the COAST TMA website at www.coastnj.com.
A brochure outlining the program will also be distributed to all employees with their paychecks on September 16.

Employees who register for wecommute will receive a list of potential carpool partners based on their home and work locations.

The initial lists will be released in early October, although employees may add their name to the database at any time.

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