COMMUTE VA

The state recently announced a new assistance program aimed at creating more links to ride-sharing options, which is one of various avenues used to mitigate congestion caused by commuters.

Building and improving roads is the more widely recognized approach to handling traffic issues, but history that suggests it’s less of a solution and more of a cycle. Technology is another approach, and might be transportation’s holy grail, but it’s still in the early, developmental stages.

That leaves ride sharing, which isn’t a new way to ease congestion, but seems to be gaining momentum, as the state’s new program (commuteva.org) suggests. The program was launched by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and, in short, links commuter services in the Richmond, Charlottesville, Roanoke and Middle Peninsula areas.

That program doesn’t impact Fredericksburg area drivers, but local commuters enjoy similar services through its own ride-matching systems.

Locally, GWRideconnect is the official ride-sharing hub, helping link commuters to such options as vanpools, carpools and commuter buses, something used by more than 3,300 commuters daily, according to a recent report by GWRideconnect.

The report also notes that the program erases 81 million miles commuters would log annually without using those ride-sharing options.

Fredericksburg area commuters also are privy to the cult-like commuting option known as slugging, a free and free-form style of commuting unique to the region. Slugs basically meet up at places like commuter lots and pair up so they can use the tolled express lanes for free.

Slugging is not new either, having been around for about 40 years, according to slug-lines.com, a website dedicated to the phenomena.

Commuters started the slug system after oil embargoes in the 1970s and when the I–95 HOV lanes opened to carpools and vanpools, according to the site.

On a side note of no real importance, the site also claims the name slug originated from a derogatory term used by bus drivers.

After slugging started, it seems frustrated bus drivers took to comparing the ride-sharers to fake coins (known in the business as slugs) because they would stand at the bus stop waiting not for the bus but for other commuters to pick them up in cars.

State transportation meeting on tap

State transportation leaders will make two stops in the area this week to discuss projects recommended for funding in Virginia’s next six-year plan for transportation.

Officials will first visit Culpeper today at 4 p.m. for the public hearing at VDOT’s auditorium at 1601 Orange Road.

The Fredericksburg meeting will be held at James Monroe High School on Thursday at 6 p.m.

The Fredericksburg meeting will also give residents a chance to learn more about and comment on the state’s I–95 corridor study, which will focus on issues and potential fixes for congestion issues from Spotsylvania to D.C.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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