Summit County has been looking at a number of ways to help the transportation issue around Park City. Some initiatives seem more logical than others. However, we couldn’t be more opposed to the county spending $7,000 per month on the RideAmigos.com platform (plus 20 hours from a county employee every week). What does Ride Amigos do for you as a commuter?
- It provides a Trip Planner that includes information about buses, the time it takes to go from point A to point B when walking or riding a bike or driving, and information on carpools (or vanpooling).
- It gives you a Commuter Dashboard that lets you track your commuting statistics, get “virtual badges”, and track your competitions with others.
- It “Gamifies” your commute where you will get points for certain events and can share those on Facebook and Twitter.
- You can build your own transportation network, with other school parents, to visualize and cluster households to create carpools.
- You…yes you… can respond to surveys about transportation.
- You can plan your travel to events so you can carpool with others.
Please don’t get us wrong. As certified geeks, this sounds cool. The app looks nice. Clustering data to optimize carpools is ingenious. So, what’s the problem.
This isn’t something your average person around Park City is going to do. We can imagine someone saying, “Should I ski, hike, bike, exercise, take my kid to school, or work today? HMMM. Forget that, I’m going to earn virtual badges by using RideAmigos. Yeah!”
The other problems is that 90% of the really useful features are already handled by Park City’s MyStop Mobile app. You can find when buses are coming. It will kick you out to Google Maps to see the time it takes to walk, bike, or drive to a location.
As we see it, the most useful part of the service would be carpools and we wonder if anyone would really use that. Our carpools aren’t the type where we want to see if anyone wants to carpool with us to Target in Salt Lake today at 4PM. If people want to carpool, it would likely be to work. A regular car pool would be set up (more like a work vanpool). Do we need to spend $7,000 a month to do that (plus a part-time employee) through an app? Could Summit County start a program that encourages employers to carpool and then takes tiny fraction of that $7,000 per month and does something with it that would encourage employees to compete for the most carpools each month? Maybe something like giving $500 to the charity or school of their choice. Summit County could match riders to a carpool online or even over the phone to start with to see if the idea has legs. It would cost something but not much.
Then if no one carpools, which is likely the case after the initial momentum dies off, the program ends. Easy. Not much money wasted.
We hate to be cynical but this sounds like one of those “cool ideas.” However, we don’t think after a few hundred thousand dollars are spent, with little to show for it, it will seem quite as cool.