Sustainability Recipe: Carpooling

October 5, 2017

About this Series

Sustainability Life Recipes provide practical tips to go green and save green. Each recipe features strategies that save money while protecting the environment and contributing to good jobs for people in our community.

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Produced in collaboration with Get Your GreenBack Tompkins

Why are over 5,000 people and over 1,500 employees of Cornellin Tompkins County sharing rides to work, school and elsewhere, every day? Well for starters - you can save over $400/year in parking fees, and up to $1,500 in gas! And, reducing single occupancy vehicles is a goal in Cornell's climate action plan. 

Thankfully, Cornell Transportation Services provides numerous opportunities to make ridesharing a few days a week - or every day! - affordable and accessible.


Ridesharing is costsharing. In general, you can divide the costs of the trip by the number of people in the car. A person who carpools to work with two co-workers with a 15-mile round trip can save over $1,500 a year, using AAA figures, and avoid emitting over a ton of carbon into the air. If your commute is longer, the savings are greater--especially if it means you can live without a car. And check out how much you can save on annual parking fees at Cornell!


Cornell’s award-winning Faculty & Staff RideShare is a carpool, with added incentives and benefits for participants. Besides sharing parking permit costs, there are numerous other benefits to joining RideShare, including:

  • Savings on fuel and vehicle maintenance fees.

  • Possible discounts on auto insurance premiums.

  • Eligible groups can receive free books of ten one-day parking permits valid in all Perimeter and Outer Tier Parking areas.

  • A thirty-day risk-free trial period.

  • Cornell provides numerous support services, such as emergency ride and FamilyCare.

  • On-campus transit from parking areas.

  • Ride free on TCAT buses when traveling among Cornell’s Ithaca facilities via the OmniRide Program.

  • Employee OmniRide Commuter Program 
    Regular employees (not temporary) can choose to forego or relinquish an annual parking permit and join the OmniRide commuter program instead. OmniRiders can use their CU ID card for free, unlimited travel on any TCAT (link is external)bus within Tompkins County, seven days a week (a $600 value annually). Transit riders who live outside the county can also join OmniRide. A portion of the regional providers’ bus pass fee is paid by Cornell; employees pay the remaining cost via payroll deduction. These OmniRide participants also enjoy unlimited access to TCAT (link is external)buses.

  • Carpooling
    One person purchases and is responsible for the commuter parking permit. Carpoolers can transfer the permit among registered vehicles. Carpool members may also be eligible for the OmniRide program, allowing more flexibility for their commute. Need help finding a carpool partner? 

  • Emergency Ride 
    If a personal emergency arises during the workday and you need to get to your car, home, or to a sick child, call 607-255-4600. We’ll get you where you need to go from 7:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday–Friday. Please note that this service is available only when the university is open and operating normally and is not for weather-related closings or emergencies, unscheduled overtime, or appointments.

  • Ithaca Carshare 
    A community based carsharing service. Members have self-serve access to cars around Ithaca and Cornell. Membership discounts are available for Cornell students and employees.   

  • Way2Go 
    Way2Go (link is external) is a community partner, transforming the culture of transportation among users, providers and decision makers. Through collaborative workshops, projects and events, Way2Go helps people save money, stress less, go green and improve mobility options.

  • Occasional-Use Permits and FamilyCare Support Service 
    Participants in the employee RideShare or OmniRide commuter programs can request occasional-use permits (link is external) for Perimeter and Outer Tier parking areas. Permits can be requested and are distributed according to program guidelines. Participants who have documented dependent- or child-care responsibilities may apply for additional one-day parking permits; the FamilyCare Application must be signed by a care representative, and completed annually.

  • Commuter Support Services
    Transportation Services provides access to several support services to insure that faculty, staff, and students can make it to campus—and back home again—with relative ease. Some services are available through our community partners. If you have any questions about the services listed, please contact us.


  1. Start where you are: Who do you know? Who’s around you… in your neighborhood, at or near your job, part of a club or activity? People might want to share rides--ASK!

  2. Try it Out: You don't have to commit to every day or even every week. Start small, create a routine, and get used to a new way of commuting.

  3. Spread the word: Make announcements at meetings, post to a bulletin board, a listserv, or a newsletter. (Tips below)

  4. Get others in on the act: Other people can help! Ask your supervisor or HR person if they can help connect carpoolers.


Cornell is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner and encourages low impact travel whenever possible. Here’s how you can help us meet our goal of net zero carbon emissions:

  • AVOID: If the business purpose can be accomplished without your physical presence, consider avoiding the trip altogether and use virtual meeting technology. Depending on your job function, you can also discuss telecommuting options with your supervisor to reduce your daily commute.

  • REDUCE: Plan your travel strategically to avoid unnecessary additional mileage. Consolidate meetings and errands to save money, time, and emissions.

  • REPLACE: Consider utilizing a more fuel-efficient or low-impact mode of transportation (i.e., bus or carpool versus single-occupant vehicle)

  • OFFSET: Consider offsetting the carbon emissions resulting from your travel. Carbon offsets can be purchased locally through the Finger Lakes Climate Fund (FLCF) in just a few minutes! Donations are used for grants to fund energy efficiency projects in low- to moderate-income households in the Finger Lakes region. These grants help pay for insulation, air sealing, energy efficient heating equipment, and other upgrades to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The FLCF is also investigating other cost-effective local carbon offset projects such as solar hot water, solar photovoltaic, biomass heating, and other renewable energy projects. Speak with your supervisor about how offsets can be purchased for business travel.