"It's saved me a lot of gas money," said Whiddon, who lives in Brownsburg. "I was filling my tank twice a week. Now it lasts a lot longer."
Indeed, an 80-mile daily round-trip commute costs about $230 a month when gas is $3.50 per gallon. The typical monthly cost to be in a vanpool, by contrast, is $100 to $120 per passenger. That includes all fuel costs and fees.
"The end result for our users is cost savings," said Kaplan, though Commuter Connect's goal also is to improve air quality by reducing the number of motor vehicles on the road. The program is funded through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Funding grant.
"We are, at its heart, an environmental program," Kaplan said.
There are still uncertainties the program finds itself continually addressing. One is those who say they don't know anyone else who has the same commute as they do. Commuter Connect has an automated database that matches participants with similar routes.
"While they may not know anybody in their immediate work location, there might be someone who works across the street," Kaplan said.
Flexibility is another concern. Many people need their car to run errands at lunch or before or after work.
"We don't say you should carpool or vanpool every day," Kaplan said. "Even one day a week will save you money and help the environment."
But what if your van or carpool driver has an emergency and has to leave outside the normal work schedule? In such cases, Commuter Connect has an emergency ride home program. Anyone who carpools an average of three times a week can get a free taxi ride up to 50 miles in the event of an emergency.