Newton commuters save and earn money by carpooling through Clean Air Campaign

COVINGTON -- Cindy Hamlin's commute from Covington to her office in Decatur was leaving a hole in her pocketbook.

It cost Hamlin between $50 and $100 a week to travel the 22-mile trip twice a day, five days a week, plus do her errands around town on weekends. Hamlin has two co-workers who also live in the Covington/Conyers area, and when the women heard about The Clean Air Campaign's Cash for Commuters program, they decided they'd give carpooling a try.

The women have been carpooling for about four months now and Hamlin said all three can see an improvement in their finances.

The Cash for Commuters program rewards commuters who opt to carpool, take public transit, bike or walk to work with $3 per day, up to a $100 maximum. After that, they may qualify for additional rewards. For example, carpools with three people can earn gas cards of $40 per month and those with four can earn cards worth $60.

Hamlin, now the sole driver in her carpool since she has the most reliable car, has received two $40 gas cards in addition to the initial $100. Her co-workers are also helping to foot a portion of the gas bill. The result is savings all around, she said.

"I'm saving money and the other two girls are saving money. It's nicer to commute to work with someone and it means less pollution. We look around and see all these cars coming out of Covington and Conyers and there's just one person. It's ridiculous," Hamlin said.

Based on a report Hamlin received from The Clean Air Campaign, her three-person carpool has reduced pollution by 1.34 tons in 123 days. The estimated fuel and maintenance savings cost is $1,342, based on the estimated cost of 50 cents per mile to operate a vehicle.

Hamlin said she plans to keep carpooling, for the company and the savings, and because she knows she's helping the planet.

Hamlin is one of 32,000 Georgians who have taken advantage of The Clean Air Campaign's Cash for Commuters program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. The program was initially offered only in metro Atlanta during smog season but has since expanded to offer year-round incentives for commuters, according to Director of Communications Brian Carr.

Carr stated that 82 percent of commuters in metro Atlanta and 79 percent statewide still drive alone. But of those that have tried the Cash for Commuters program, 74 percent still use carpooling or alternative transportation 18 to 24 months after participation ends, he said.

Carr said commuters who participate in Clean Air Campaign programs help eliminate 1.4 million vehicle miles of travel and keep 700 tons of pollution out of the air while saving $658,000 on commute costs each workday.

For more information, visit http://www.cleanaircampaign.org and click on "Your Commute" or call 1-877-CLEANAIR (1-877-253-2624).