The U.S. census found that over 75% of Americans drive alone to work each day.[i] In Nashville, that number is even higher at 84%. With approximately 100 new residents moving to Nashville each day[ii], commutes are steadily becoming synonymous with increasing traffic, excess carbon emissions, and longer drive times. With many Nashvillians sitting in gridlocked traffic on highways, some may be wondering if better options exist.
If you caught Socket’s previous blog about Nashville Connector (https://nashconnector.org/) you know there’s a great new tool to help connect commuters with a better way to get to work. Read more about Nashville Connector, and all it has to offer, here. There are several alternatives to driving, such as biking, walking, or taking public transportation to a desired location, but one of the simplest alternatives is carpooling.
Carpooling helps reduce traffic, reduce carbon emissions, and creates an opportunity to socialize. But what if, in addition to all these benefits, drivers could actually get paid to carpool? A new mobile app called Hytch Rewards (Hytch) offers cash payments to individuals who carpool together.[iii]
Step 1: Carpoolers download the free app, which will connect to their phone’s contacts.
Step 2: Whenever two or more people are ready to carpool, users can open the app and invite participants to the Hytch ride.
Step 3: Once the other users have connected to the Hytch ride, the app creates a “halo” around the members of the vehicle using GPS tracking, and then the ride begins.
Step 4: At the end of the ride, the Hytch app calculates the impact of the users’ ride and displays it on the app’s dashboard.
The dashboard of the Hytch app shows users how many rides they’ve taken and the total number of miles they’ve travelled while carpooling. It also shows users the total amount of money they’ve earned and the total number of trees they’ve saved. For example, my dashboard (pictured below) reads that, since downloading the app in February, I’ve taken 105 trips with Hytch, travelled 1,957 miles, saved almost 40 trees, and have earned $39.49.[iv]
Author Kelsi Lewis's Hytch dashboard
The Hytch app is able to offer cash rewards to carpoolers because it partners with organizations that support their mission of reducing traffic and carbon emissions. With Hytch’s many partners, such as the Nashville Predators, Nissan, Sprint, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Lipscomb University, and Goodwill, Hytch is able to create the cash reward pool available for its users.
Hytch also provides great opportunities for users to give back to the community. Once a user has earned a minimum of ten dollars, they may decide to “cash out,” or donate their earnings to Goodwill’s Wheels to Work program or to the Citizens’ Climate Education project.
The Hytch app aims to reduce drivers’ carbon footprints by getting them out of single passenger cars and into shared rides. Fewer cars on the road means less greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air. According to the Hytch website, the record number of Hytch participants in a single ride was 21 people.[v] That’s a lot of avoided pollution!
Metro employees and Nashville residents and visitors can take part in Hytch today. In a world of increasing traffic, frustration, and carbon emissions, this program provides a way for drivers to grab a friend and “Hytch” their way to a fuller wallet and a greener planet.
By Kelsi Stubblefield Lewis, intern with the Division of Sustainability, Fall 2018