Courtesy CarmaCarma

Courtesy CarmaCarma

Carma app offers rebate for carpoolers on Bay Bridge

There is a ridesharing app with a new incentive for commuters crossing the Bay Bridge into The City, and this one encourages the actually sharing of rides.

Carma, a free app that aims to connect people traveling in the same direction for work so they can carpool, is offering drivers who take at least two other Carma users to work a $2.50 rebate, enough to cover the high-occupancy vehicle toll on the Bay Bridge. The limited-time rebate begins today at 7 a.m. and continues through Oct. 31.

Drivers with Carma can charge riders 20 cents per mile.

San Jose-based Carma, owned by a Cork, Ireland, company, came to the Bay Area in 2011 after it won a request for proposals issued by Contra Costa, Marin and Sonoma counties. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission awarded about $2 million in 2012 and 2013 to jump-start the pilot program in those three counties.

Carma, like Uber and Lyft, sustains its business by taking a commission, in its case, 15 percent or the per mile rate.

Drivers with Carma won't earn more than the 56 cents per mile current federal reimbursable mileage rate allowed by the IRS. Commission will be capped at this mark.

“Absolutely, we have a legal agreement with everybody,” Paul Steinberg, Carma's vice president of business development, said of deals with counties and clearance from the California Public Utilities Commission. “We're as legal as can be.”

Steinberg said his company, which he said launched a similar toll rebate program in Austin, Texas, believes vehicles going through the carpool lane should not have to pay a toll. The carpool lane on the Bay Bridge was free for HOV until four years ago, when the Bay Area Tolling Authority made the carpool fee during rush hour $2.50.

“No one likes paying tolls,” Steinberg said, “we've learned that big-time.”

Randy Iwasaki, executive director for the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, said the partnership with Carma came about from his agency's desire to “formalize the phenomenon that is called casual carpooling.”

“We're not set up to offer those incentives,” he said. “We don't have the funds to do that.”

Bay Area NewsBay BridgeCarmaTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

New protected bicycle lanes stretch from the city's Portola District to Bernal Heights. (Courtesy Bay City News)
City leaders celebrate protected bike lanes in city’s Portola, Bernal Heights neighborhoods

San Francisco city leaders on Thursday announced the completion of new protected… Continue reading

Basketball (Shutterstock)
Stanford’s NCAA Tournament hopes in peril after close loss to Oregon

Ziaire Williams nearly had his moment on Thursday night. After giving his… Continue reading

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Most Read