Ed Sengle: Trying to reduce single occupancy vehicles

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Ed Sengle has been involved with Hinesburg Rides for the last eight years. He has nothing but praise for the work Karla Munson and others have done to help bring bus service to town and to provide rides for those who need help getting around, but Sengle would like to take the organization one step further.

“The dirty little secret of Vermont,” said Sengle “is that although we’re a rural state, most people work at a job outside the home and have to drive to get there. Every day there are a ton of cars going down Route 116 and most of them are single occupancy vehicles.” Sengle noted that carpooling is an option but it is generally limited to people who work at the same location and have the same hours. What he envisions is an app which allows people to share rides with others going in the same direction, but not necessarily to the same place of business. “I’m convinced there is an opportunity to utilize the technology we have at our disposal,” said Sengle “be it smartphones, GPS or social networking, to connect people in a way that is more convenient than what most people associate with carpooling.”

Hinesburg Rides is not Sengle’s only volunteer effort in the community. He has served on the board of trustees of the Carpenter-Carse Library since 2003 and is responsible for the organization’s recent 10-year strategic plan. “Our population has levelled off and it’s slightly aging so we have to make our programs reflect the demographics of the town,” he said. “I felt it was necessary to get the plan in place so we could make more informed long-term decisions.” Sengle has also volunteered with the Lewis Creek Association by doing water sampling on the LaPlatte River.

A mechanical engineer by trade, Sengle moved to Hinesburg in 1988 and has been an active member of the community ever since. “I like the small town feel of Hinesburg and the community involvement,” he said. “It’s a good town and it really does pull together.” In the spring, Sengle has a small sugaring operation which used to be utilized for his wife’s catering business. Now, the 25 gallons produced (closer to 20 this year) are given away to friends and used at home.

Sengle is pleased at the steps Hinesburg Rides has taken but he would like to expand the organization to include more carpooling. He is looking for people who are willing to be flexible in their hours in exchange for occasionally getting a ride from others. Sengle has worked with the state which has a web-based system similar to the one he envisions but which he believes does not go far enough. His app-based system would be more immediate and would also allow users to set parameters on whom they would accept rides from: people in their network, friends of people in their network, fellow townspeople, etc. “People are afraid to carpool with strangers,” Sengle said “and they don’t necessarily want to be locked into a daily thing so this would allow flexibility. It’s still in the concept phase but it’s moving forward.”