TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -A drive through Tucson could land motorists a gift card or help to plant a tree thanks to a new app in the Old Pueblo.
Metropia, which is free to download, offers incentives to drivers for planning their trips instead of simply rushing out the door and adding to traffic. Yi-Chang Chiu, the apps founder and a professor at the University of Arizona, said Tucson is a great place for Metropia to make a difference.
“This community is open to new ideas,” he said.
The idea behind Metropia is to collect the data from drivers in Tucson in order to improve traffic flow and street design. Users input their destination and the app maps out the best route, like a GPS navigation tool, but there's more to it.
Metropia also offers the time you'll spend in your car depending on the time of your trip. Maybe your travel time would be shorter if you left sooner or later than originally intended. Completed trips reward drivers with points that can
be spent on gift cards to places like Target and Starbucks and local businesses like R Bar and Fed by Threads.
“I think it's a great fit and I think Tucson is just going through an absolute revival that is really exciting to be a part of,” said Fed by Threads co-founder Alok Appadurai.
Appadruai's business provides 12 meals to people in need for every item sold in the store downtown. He said Metropia's ability to track Carbon Dioxide emissions and plant trees in Tucson syncs up with his own company's effort to provide
sustainable solutions in Southern Arizona.
The app also has the attention of local government agencies. Pima Association of Governments provided the following statement on its work with Metropia:
Pima Association of Governments, the region's metropolitan planning organization, is partnering with Metropia Inc. in a proactive effort to alleviate congestion and reduce impacts on air quality in the region.
Metropia intends to collect travel time and speeds for PAG's Travel Demand Model, which is used for planning future road projects, forecasting pollution levels and ensuring compliance with air quality regulations. Research gathered by Metropia also
will benefit PAG's travel reduction program to promote ridesharing. Sun Rideshare is PAG's regional travel assistance program.
During a drive to demo the app, Lead Operations Engineer Mario Salomon said the app provides a win-win-win scenario for individual drivers, the greater Tucson area and the environment.
More than 1,000 people have signed up for the app since its release less than two weeks. Salomon said he's excited about Metropia gaining traction in Tucson.
“We're from Tucson, we live in Tucson and it's a beautiful thing to see,” he said.
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