Washington using iPhone app for carpools

Washington state's go520 pilot program uses the Avego app to encourage carpools.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Avego app
Avego points out the locations of potential carpoolers. Avego

Seattle earned the dubious distinction of being rated No. 9 for worst traffic in the country last year. Now the Washington Department of Transportation is trying to alleviate the problem by using an iPhone app to encourage carpooling. Avego, which describes itself as a transportation efficiency company, runs the online system behind the app that matches up drivers with potential riders.

Washington is initially using the Avego app in a pilot program dubbed go520. The name refers to State Route 520, the road where the application is designated to work. For the pilot, Washington is taking 250 drivers and 750 riders.

When drivers set out on their commute, they input the destination. Potential riders also put in where they need to go. The app tells each driver the location of potential riders. Drivers can choose to accept or reject riders as they pop up on the app. Once a driver accepts a rider, the app gives them both a PIN to verify each other, and gives the driver directions to the rider's pickup location.

The Avego app includes a calculation for riders to share in the cost of the commute.

To encourage drivers to use the program, Washington is rewarding them with a $15 gas card for picking up 10 riders in a month, or a $30 gas card for using the app 20 times in a month. Drivers also get to use the HOV lane.

Beyond the obvious advantage of getting a ride to work, riders with this pilot program are also given credit in the Avego system, which offsets the share costs they accrue for each ride.

Avego app