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April 17, 2023

Under new leadership, The Rideshare Co. navigates post-pandemic employee commuting patterns

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Nanci Carnabuci Fitzgerald (right) took over as the CEO of The Rideshare Co. in July. She is seen talking to board chair Robert Croce.
PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED The Rideshare Co. in Bloomfield.
The Rideshare Co.
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Nanci Carnabuci Fitzgerald has been named the new president and CEO of The Rideshare Co., a Bloomfield-based ride-sharing nonprofit with a nationwide reach and global-minded goals of reducing single-vehicle drivers and their environmental effects.

Carnabuci Fitzgerald started at the nonprofit in 2006 as vice president of business development, leading sales and marketing.

She took over in July for the now-retired Jon Colman, who founded the organization in 1980 to make it easier for people to get to and from work, while also measurably reducing both road congestion and energy consumption.

It provides ride-sharing services and programs for private companies, government agencies and residential facilities.

Nanci Carnabuci Fitzgerald

The Rideshare Co. got its start following the gas shortages of the 1970s. Its eco-conscious mission, at the time, was unfamiliar — back “when green was just a color,” Carnabuci Fitzgerald said.

It launched “Easy Street” as an early division in the 1990s and 2000s, tapping volunteers to drive vans full of people to the same location, often to the workplace.

Today, Rideshare Co. has 12 employees and two main divisions. Easy Commute is a web-based commuter-benefits and incentive program that manages employee ride-sharing for businesses. Easy Fleet provides vehicles to organizations for their transportation needs.

More than four decades after its founding, Rideshare Co. faces several modern-day challenges, including differentiating itself from the popularity of ride-hailing services, and dealing with a workforce that doesn’t commute to the office as much as it did pre-pandemic.

Carnabuci Fitzgerald has been tapped to confront those headwinds.

“We’re moving multiple people at a time, that’s how we differ from Uber and Lyft, which is on-demand ride-hailing, not ride-sharing,” she said. “Then there’s fixed-route transportation like buses and trains. Then there’s what we do, which is provide vehicles for internal transportation for employers.”

Good value

Easy Commute is used mostly by large employers for their workers, whereas Easy Fleet is a service provided for seniors, people with disabilities and others in need through partnerships with residential and group homes, assisted living facilities and nonprofits.

Canton-based Favarh is a nonprofit that supports high school students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Rideshare Co. provides residential services to individuals living in Favarh’s group homes and supported apartments, to get them to work, day programs, appointments and healthy lifestyle activities.

“We have used Rideshare vehicles since around 2006, and it is a good value to our organization,” said Favarh Executive Director Stephen Morris.

Rideshare also provides work opportunities for some Favarh participants who conduct light office work, providing employment and work experience.

Rideshare Co. is a 501(c)(3) organization, but it operates more like a business, generating revenue strictly from clients, Carnabuci Fitzgerald said.

In fiscal year 2022, Rideshare Co. generated more than $6.2 million in revenue, with more than $7.4 million projected for fiscal 2023.

It was not profitable in fiscal 2022 but is “on track for a profitable year in 2023,” Carnabuci Fitzgerald said.

“We often do make money, we have to buy vehicles and pay for fuel. But we work very close to the bone. We don’t always turn a profit,” she said.

Rideshare Co.’s success is also measured by the positive effects of its services.

Rideshare Co. offers an online commuter calculator that tallies the true cost of a single-rider vehicle. A 45-mile daily commute, including the cost of gas, tolls, parking and vehicle wear and tear, can add up to more than $500 a month and roughly $6,800 a year.

So far, Rideshare Co. calculates that its services have yielded 15 million fewer vehicle trips, 576 million fewer miles traveled, 287,000 fewer tons of emissions released into the air, and 27 million gallons of gasoline conserved.

Employees of one client, Fox Corp., from 2009 to 2022 saved more than $8.5 million in commuter costs, 24 million vehicle miles and 1 million gallons of gas, according to Rideshare Co.

“We’ve taken countless cars off the road and reduced vehicle miles by millions,” Carnabuci Fitzgerald said. “That’s our mission, to provide transportation solutions, be environmental stewards and lessen the burdens of government. And we do all that just by moving people together.”

Electrifying fleet

Easy Commute rates are based on the number of employees using the service, whereas Easy Fleet prices are mileage-based and determined by the vehicles utilized, which range from small sedans to trucks, vans and buses.

The program is also incentive-based, with employers rewarding workers who use the service with a stipend or bonus, points toward a gift or extra time off.

A big incentive for companies is to decrease the number of cars parking in their lots.

“A lot of them don’t have room, and need to have these cars off their campus,” Carnabuci Fitzgerald said.

Rideshare Co. now has clients from Connecticut to California, and Carnabuci Fitzgerald’s vision for the future includes greater strides in sustainability, with a switch from gas to electric vehicles as one of her top long-term goals.

“This is something that requires long-range planning and something we have to do if we’re going to be relevant in 25 years, or we just wouldn’t exist,” she said.

Post-COVID commuting patterns

Since taking over in July, Carnabuci Fitzgerald is still adjusting to the post-COVID world, looking at “what needs can we provide for the hybrid workforce?”

A major challenge is the more fluid schedule of the corporate worker, as opposed to the traditional 9-to-5 workday.

A more flexible schedule brings unpredictable traffic patterns outside of the morning- and evening-commute hours.

“That’s an interesting challenge that people were not expecting. So we’re doing a deep dive of where we can have the most impact,” Carnabuci Fitzgerald said.

That could lead to a more flexible transportation system based on hybrid corporate work schedules and “trying to find the middle ground.”

It’s a work in progress, she said, as “the workforce is still settling, with many employers not yet bringing their full workforce back to the office.”

Another growing opportunity for Rideshare Co. is non-emergency medical transportation — moving clients to regular medical appointments.

Carnabuci Fitzgerald said a major burden on the healthcare industry is the cost of missed medical appointments; Rideshare Co. can potentially help close that gap.

Robert Croce, chairman of Rideshare Co.’s board of directors, said Carnabuci Fitzgerald has been a proven leader during her 17-year tenure with the organization “who knows how to drive our message through the noise in the marketplace.”

“Nanci is very capable of bringing this organization to the next level — to position The Rideshare Co. as the number one expert in the field of ride-sharing for both the public and private sector,” Croce said.

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