The morning commute to work or school needn’t be so lonely for the next few days if you decide to participate in the county’s Rideshare Week.

The program runs Oct. 7-11 and is sponsored by Traffic Solutions, a service of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. Rideshare Week is intended to highlight the environmental and financial benefits of alternative transportation.

UCSB’s Transportation and Parking Services and Transportation Alternatives Program are promoting the initiative campus-wide. James Wagner, program manager for T.A.P., said faculty and staff received mailings about Rideshare Week, and e-mails have been sent to all graduate students. Undergraduate commuters are not as easy to contact, he said, but all students are encouraged to participate.

The concept behind Rideshare Week is simple.

“We are asking people to commute to campus in any alternative vehicle to a single-occupancy motor vehicle,” Wagner said.

Participants are asked to pledge to commute in an alternative manner, be it by bike, bus, carpool or on foot, Wagner said. If this pledge is made before Oct. 14, entrants are eligible for a prize drawing. Applications for the project are online.

Traffic Solutions’ primary objective is to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution throughout the Santa Barbara area. The county’s Air Pollution Control District monitors and regulates local sources of harmful emissions; however, Bobbie Bratz, public information officer for the APCD, said the agency does not have regulatory authority over motor vehicles – which is the state’s responsibility.

“Our biggest source of ozone pollution is motor vehicles – cars and trucks – and shipping operations in the channel,” she said.

The APCD has targeted commuters through education programs and voluntary reduction initiatives aimed particularly at users of highly polluting diesel-powered trucks and off-road vehicles, Bratz said. In the last few years, the county has made significant strides in reducing air pollution.

“We have met all requirements for federal ozone standards, which is a big milestone for us. There are only a few days where we don’t meet state one-hour ozone standards and federal eight-hour ozone standards. … So far there have been three days this year,” Bratz said. “We have pretty clean air. It has been improving dramatically over the last 12 years. … Statewide, air pollution is [also] getting better. The only place I can’t say that is in the San Joaquin Valley. Everyone is doing everything possible to get air cleaner.”

In addition to environmental benefits from participating in Rideshare Week, there are also financial incentives. The total operational cost of running a motor vehicle is approximately $0.50 a mile, Wagner said, and that does not include parking expenses at places like UCSB.

“People in I.V. can’t get [long-term] permits, so [Rideshare participants] can save money by not buying daily permits,” Wagner said.

T.A.P. has further information on alternative transportation and a carpool sign-up list on its website, .

“People who want to experiment with carpooling, but don’t have someone to share a ride with, can request a carpool match,” Wagner said. “Every little bit helps.”

Commuters can find out more information and sign up for the Rideshare week program through Traffic Solutions’ website, .