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For the week of February 28 through March 6, 2001

First Rideshare numbers roll in

Express Staff Writer

After its first four months of operation, Wood River Rideshare’s preliminary participation and budget numbers are rolling in, and organizer Beth Callister is cautiously optimistic about them.

Rideshare was launched Nov. 6 with enough funding for four months. Last week, and this week, with promising ridership numbers in hand, Callister has been working to secure continued funding commitments from local cities and the county.

Since Nov. 6, she said Monday, she has had 101 inquiries from people interested in participating in carpooling, 76 of whom have registered in the program’s ride-matching database. She is currently conducting a telephone survey to determine how many of those are actually ride-sharing. The survey is not complete, but she said she knows through word-of-mouth that at least 28 people have begun carpooling through the program.

Four months ago, "I didn’t know what to expect," she said, but "I think those are good numbers."

Callister added that a typical goal for ride-sharing programs is 10 percent of the commuting traffic, which between Hailey and Ketchum each day totals about 2,000 employees. Eventually, Callister would like to see between 100 and 200 of those people ride-sharing.

What’s the cost of all this? About $55,000 a year, Callister estimates, mostly to cover marketing, office expenses and her own paycheck.

On Monday, the Blaine County Board of Commissioners agreed unanimously to earmark $5,000 of the county’s budget to the program and to begin looking for ways to budget another $7,000.

That action came after a meeting Thursday during which Callister garnered $13,000 from the city of Sun Valley on the condition that the county taxpayers also ante up.

"They were pretty adamant," Callister said of the Sun Valley council. "If they’re going to contribute money, they want to see the county contribute too."

Another $13,000 has previously come from the state-run Rideshare program, and Callister said she plans to ask the Ketchum City Council for $2,400 on Feb. 5 to bring that city’s total contribution up to $13,000.

Last summer, Callister said, Ketchum contributed an initial $10,600 and the county contributed $1,000.

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