Above photo: Cyrus Dastoor (middle) arriving to work with some of his carpool group.
Spending two hours each way commuting to work via public transit. Losing 40% of his pay cheque on expenses related to driving to work. Feeling frustrated by the Lower Mainland's notorious traffic delays. Longing to merge into an HOV lane to save time.
These were some of the factors that led Vancouver Coastla Health (VCH) employee Cyrus Dastoor to start his own carpool group, commuting from South Surrey to the Vancouver General Hospital area each day.
“I was pretty skeptical about carpooling to work before I tried it – but it was costing me $1,000 a month to commute alone," Cyrus explains.
“Our group has been carpooling for about three years now and I love it. It is possible some of us would have left VCH and tried to find work closer to home if we weren't sharing a ride."
Cyrus isn't alone in this sentiment. Thousands of VCH employees face lengthy commutes each day – some travelling more than two hours one-way to get to work – and public transit isn't always a feasible option.
Enter GoOrca, VCH's new carpool matching app.
The premise behind the app – developed by Arthur Orsini, Healthy Transportation Lead with Employee Wellness – is simple. VCH employees register online, create different Trip Profiles with their carpooling preferences, and are then connected with potential car share matches. Privacy is assured: home addresses and last names are never made public.
“I think the carpool app is a fantastic idea," says Cyrus. “It's so simple and streamlined, and will help connect VCH employees to find an arrangement that works."
Cyrus's own carpool arrangement is flexible: he drives his car to work, picking up three others along the way. Each member of the carpool pays him a fixed amount per ride to help cover costs.
Once skeptical about driving to work every day with strangers, his carpool group has become one of the highlights of his day.
“Last Christmas everyone except me took some vacation time, and I hated commuting alone," he chuckles.
“I used to sit in traffic feeling frustrated and get to work quite stressed out, but now I have a more relaxed, social experience which helps make the commute so much easier. Even if you have your doubts, just give it a try – carpooling will improve your life!"