By Therron Blatter
Many years ago, I would ride the Redwood Road bus to and from work. At that time in my life, my decision to take the bus was based on economics and the fact that we only had one vehicle. This arrangement actually worked out quite well. The bus stopped a few blocks from my home in Riverton and only took about 45 minutes each way. This changed abruptly when Redwood Road was rebuilt in the mid 1990’s. The construction caused major delays for the bus, and what once took 45 minutes turned into 90 minutes.
I started to look for other options and formed a carpool with a few co-workers who lived in the south end of the valley. I have commuted to work via carpool nearly every day since then for almost twenty years. At times, we had as many as five regulars, but usually there were four of us. Several folks moved on to other jobs, but we always found someone to take their spot. Looking back, there have been about a dozen different people in our carpool; some for only a summer, and some for nearly the entire 20 years.
It is interesting to contemplate some of the impacts of our carpool, both financially and environmentally. I would estimate that I have saved nearly 3,500 round trips to work worth over 158,000 total miles. Fuel costs have varied over the years, but assuming an average of $2.50 a gallon and 30 MPG, this turns into a savings of over $13,000 in gasoline. Perhaps even more of a savings is the 158,000 miles of wear and tear I haven’t put on my personal vehicles. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m sure the 158,000 miles adds up to a pretty impressive amount of pollution prevented. In reality, it probably adds up to three or four times as much when you consider that our carpool typically took three or four cars off the road.
One of the things that might be easy to overlook is the human factor of the carpool. Over the years, we have become good friends. We have shared our life’s events together as our children have grown up, gone off to college, gotten married and given us grandchildren. We have engaged in interesting and insightful conversation, shared many laughs, and a few sad times as we have traveled together. And to think I would have hardly know most of them if not for the carpool.
With the opening of the Provo Front-runner line, we made the change to commuting via UTA rail. We have been doing this for almost a year now but still carpool to the Draper station and ride the train together. This has been our story for nearly twenty years and will likely continue until we are all retired.
Not sure how to get started? Check out UTA’s Rideshare program for more information on how you can set up your own carpool.
I am the Branch Manager for the Underground Storage Tank Branch of Division of Environmental Response and Remediation. I have worked for DEQ since 1991. Away from the office, I enjoy backpacking the wilds of Montana (my birth state) in the summer and enjoy Utah’s snow in the winter.