Missoula in Motion is hosting several carpooling challenges to inspire the community to fight air pollution during the winter.
Missoula in Motion has created a carpool search program for the Missoula area with the goal of helping the community make eco-friendly travel choices to fight inversion. MIM program specialist Margaret Hoyt says inversion causes problems for Missoula's air quality during the colder months. She says inversion happens when the warmer air rises, trapping emissions and colder air in the valley below.
"You're improving Missoula's air quality in a month where, or during a time when it's poor, and not as obvious that it's poor," Hoyt said. "People really relate wildfires to poor air quality, but it's also just as poor in the winter."
One carpool challenge is for skiers and snowboarders heading to Snowbowl. MIM is working with Snowbowl to reduce parking congestion at the mountain and encourage sustainable transportation. Commuters can enter their starting address, the specifics of when they want to go to the mountain and whether they are a driver or a passenger. The program will connect them with carpool options in their area.
"Parking is really tight at the Snowbowl. People can be lined up all along the road up to the mountain," Hoyt said. "People seem really comfortable sharing chairlift rides, so we say why not also share a ride to the mountain?"
The Clear the Air Challenge is a more general challenge for drivers heading anywhere around town. Drivers compete against people with similar trip lengths, and are encouraged to change their habits by walking, carpooling or riding the bus where they need to go.
Commuters who log their trips for the challenges are eligible for a prize. The competitions run through the end of January, but the online carpool search features will be available throughout the winter. More information about the programs is available here.