Everybody into the (Car) Pool ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

January 07, 1993

Buddy Alves wants those telephones to ring. Four years ago, when Mr. Alves joined Anne Arundel County's planning and zoning office, an average of four people a week would call concerning car and van pooling. Nowadays, his office receives a dozen or more inquiries about these modes of transportation.

"It's remarkable. We are spreading the word," says Mr. Alves, who coordinates the county's ride-sharing efforts and keeps current a roster of ride match applicants.

No one knows for sure how many Anne Arundel residents have forsaken a single-occupancy vehicle for some form of ride-sharing. But county officials know of 25 organized van pools which go from Annapolis to the Washington area each work day.

"About 90 percent of the calls are from the Annapolis-Crofton-South County area going to Washington and Northern Virginia. Five percent ask about Baltimore and another five percent about other destinations," Mr. Alves says.

Those figures are based on callers' areas of interest and do not tell the whole story. But they underscore a trend that has become increasingly noticeable in recent years. More and more Anne Arundel residents are working in the District of Columbia and its Maryland and Northern Virginia suburbs; more county residents, in fact, now commute to the capital region than to the Baltimore area outside of Anne Arundel. Because major arteries to those destinations -- particularly U.S. 50 -- are becoming more congested, van and car pooling become increasingly viable alternatives simply for a commuter's mental health.

It is only logical that when Prince George's County eventually inaugurates a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on its portion of U.S. 50, Anne Arundel hopes to follow the example.

We support ride-sharing and other forms of mass transit. With work and commuting patterns changing, peak-time rush hours are lengthening and protracted gridlock is a growing reality.

One need only to look at Northern Virginia to see what some Maryland corridors will face unless more commuters begin car-pooling or taking MARC trains, light-rail lines or buses. Ride-sharing -- much touted in the 1970s, little used in the '80s -- is an alternative whose time may finally have come.

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