April 7, 2008
60, Number 26
How much money
can carpooling save?
John Notarantonio and his carpool partner alternate cars each day, and split gas costs equally.
“I estimate I save $3,600 annually by carpooling,” Notarantonio says. “I think people who don’t carpool get used to spending that money, and do not realize how quickly it adds up.”
• $530 in reduced parking fees
• $175 less on car insurance
• Gasoline bill decreased by 50 percent
• Car maintenance decreased by 50 percent
• $180 bonus from the Clean Air Campaign
To find out how much you could save by carpooling each year, visit www.destination.emory.edu.
April 7, 2008
By Elizabeth Elkins
Mountain biking around the Chattahoochee River is one of John Notarantonio’s favorite pastimes. In the evenings and on weekends, he pedals through the Sope Creek entrance to the river’s National Recreation Area, just a short ride from the Marietta home he shares with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. For Notarantonio, the proximity to nature is one reason he doesn’t mind his 42-mile round trip commute to Emory each workday. Carpooling is another.
Notarantonio has himself to thank for finding a carpool partner. He developed Destination Emory, the software the University uses to help geographically match employees interested in carpooling to work. It’s an impressive accomplishment (one recently acknowledged with an “Innovation of the Year” award from the Office of Technology Transfer), considering Notarantonio began work as a data warehouse developer at Emory in June 2006, and saw his program go live just 10 months later. “When I first started work, my boss had some vacation time to take,” Notarantonio explains. “So I used that time to really learn the software tools Emory uses. The only data I had access to was employee demographics. I didn’t know this area very well so I also had some map software open to see where I could get lunch. I saw the two windows open on my screen, so I imported all 12,000 employees into the mapping software. I immediately realized this had potential as a great real-world application.”
Destination Emory has now recorded thousands of user inquiries, and is a vital part of the University’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The concept has also been picked up by the Office of Technology Transfer and renamed EcoRide, to be marketed around the city of Atlanta.
“Traffic in Atlanta is so bad now that we are losing corporations,” Notarantonio says. “I’m hopeful EcoRide can be very successful across the city, and we will reap a huge benefit not only for the environment but for business.”
Before relocating to Atlanta from South Florida, carpooling wasn’t a part of Notarantonio’s vernacular. His first job after graduating from Florida State University was in health care in West Palm Beach — where he lived close enough to work that traffic didn’t bother him. He came to Atlanta to work for McKesson, settling in an apartment near the corporation’s Dunwoody office. Then — at the same time Notarantonio and his wife found a home in Marietta — McKesson relocated to Alpharetta. Notarantonio quickly learned how awful Atlanta traffic really is.
“My wife works in Marietta and we both wanted to stay in that location,” Notarantonio says. “I fortunately found a co-worker who lived near me, and we began to carpool to Alpharetta.”
It was during those carpool sessions that Notarantonio learned what he considers the most “overlooked aspect of carpooling” — the chance to network and make new friends.
“That co-worker ended up becoming a great friend, and was one of the references that helped me land a job at Emory,” he says. Notarantonio is quick to point out some of the other misconceptions about carpooling — one, that it’s a life-time commitment (it’s not) and, two, that it does not make much of a difference in your budget (it does). Notarantonio is now also good friends with his Emory carpool partner, a biochemistry researcher.
“We have almost an hour each way for shop talk. It’s a great way to learn what else is going on at Emory,” he explains.
In an information technology field also known as “business intelligence,” Notarantonio is a perfect example of a problem-solver who can impact many facets of life at both Emory and in Atlanta.
“I just enjoy solving problems with data,” he says. “We have a parking problem. We have a transportation problem. We have an environmental problem. I am hopeful this will be part of the way to solve those.”