Austin app gives toll refunds for carpoolers

Link to article here.

Who says Texas isn't like the liberal northeast and western U.S.? Austin, TX is already using an app that gives you a toll refund if you do what the government wants - carpool. If you don't meet the politically correct requirements for travel, you'll be paying an extra tax. If you partake in socially acceptable social engineering programs like carpooling to get a free ride on toll lanes, then you're allowing the government to control your freedom to travel. Oh, liberty, where art thou?

Note you have to have three people in your car to get the free ride. Gone are the days of just two...

Carpool app offers toll refunds
By Heather Kovar
February 27, 2014

CENTRAL TEXAS -- For those who think tollways are too expensive, there is a way to get 100 percent of your money back on some of them.

It's a carpooling experiment to see if toll rebates can inspire people to ride share.

The free mobile app, Carma, matches drivers with riders. If you have one rider using the app, your toll will be discounted 50 percent. If you have two riders, your toll is free.

As you sit in traffic in and around Austin, It's estimated there are 900,000 empty car seats surrounding you.

Now commuters can use phones to potentially eliminate cars on the roads and save money on tolls.

"Carma is the first legal real time ridesharing here in Austin," said Paul Steinberg, vice president of business development for Carma.

Carma launched in Central Texas with a banner break on 183A in Cedar Park.

Carma is participating in a federally funded pilot program along with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

“The Austin community needs to be discovering new and different and better ways to increase the capacity of our road system,” said Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Mobility Authority.

He says that capacity is the empty seat in your car.

"You enter your regular commute schedule, and it will automatically match you with good likely matches,” said Steinberg.

You sign up with a credit card or Paypal and link your TxTag. The riders' app automatically pays the driver 17 cents per mile. The app gets three cents per mile.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is a partner in this pilot, studying the use of this technology and the effects of toll discounts.

Greg Griffin is a researcher who looks at "what type of an impact it has on the system, whether or not people change their behavior given these circumstances,” he said.

"I thought it was a pretty good idea, really 'cause toll fees are ridiculous,” said driver Tom Norman.

"If I could check their background and it comes up okay, then I suppose I wouldn’t mind, but otherwise it sounds kind of weird, kind of sketchy,” said driver Lauren Smith.

To prevent getting in with strangers, the app allows users to message potential matches, so you can learn their employers and verify identities.

On Monday, 1,000 fliers went up on doors in Cedar Park. Since then, 430 new users signed up, and 100 trips have already been taken.

Carma is already in San Franciso, Seattle, Santa Barbara and Washington D.C.

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