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In 2012, SBCAG Traffic Solutions and the Community Environmental Council in Santa Barbara County launched the Dynamic Rideshare project, an FHWA Value Pricing Pilot Program project. The project focused on increasing rideshare participation in the Santa Barbara California region by implementing a dynamic ridesharing program through the use of a smartphone application (branded as Carma) that provided real time carpool matching for individual trips. Riders could open the app and instantly find drivers nearby who wanted to carpool. The system matched drivers and passengers up, allowed users to text or call to meet and facilitated a cashless payment based on mileage. The app also provided the ability to incentivize carpooling through micro payments from Traffic Solutions to the riders and drivers. Similar to Uber or Lyft, users could rate other users from one to five stars, and could leave comments, which helped to add safety and community to the system. Through GPS enabled mobile devices, actual trip data was tracked for all trips within the app.
Two markets were targeted for this pilot: college students and adult commuters traveling Hwy 101. The pilot was originally planned to be an 18 month pilot, but due to extensive beta testing of multiple versions of the app, as well as limited staff resources, the pilot was extended to three years.
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