SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Erwin Germain got stuck in I-70 ski traffic one time too many. He was sitting in his car alone, looking at other drivers in their cars alone, and wondered why they weren't carpooling.
"For me, it was absurd, all of us going in the same direction," Germain said.
Germain moved to Colorado in 2015 from France, where he had utilized a carpooling app nearly every time he traveled. He decided it was about time Colorado had a similar system.
He and his business partner, Justin Kurtz, co-founded TreadShare. It's an app where drivers and passengers can link up and split the cost of gas.
"You say, oh tomorrow I'm going to go skiing, I live in Denver, and I'm going to A-Basin," Germain said. "I'm going to post my ride on the app, saying I'm going to leave from this place, at this time, and I'm going to A-Basin. I have three seats left in my car. So then passengers who are interested in going to A-Basin tomorrow can just navigate the app and can find a driver that matches their schedule."
Unlike ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, the driver does not make a profit. Passengers pay the driver through the app to share the cost of the trip.
Germain and Kurtz first launched TreadShare in 2019, but the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) issued them a "cease and desist" letter. By default, in Colorado, carpooling apps fall in the Uber and Lyft category due to a state statute. Those ridesharing apps must pay the state each year for a license and follow commercial regulations since drivers make money.
Germain said Rep. Julie McCluskie, who represents Summit County, heard that the app got shut down and wanted to get the law changed. She and a group of bipartisan lawmakers pushed forward a bill that clarifies that carpooling apps are different from those other ridesharing apps. The bill was passed and signed into law in April.
The new law mandates that carpooling apps must register with the state. It also defines a carpooling service as 'a trip that is at least 23 miles between pick-up and drop-off points and a trip to or from a ski area, regardless of distance.' The app is not limited to I-70. Drivers and passengers can share rides throughout the state.
The law allows TreadShare to re-launch in October. Germain said it gives them more time to promote the app.
"At the same time, COVID hit anyways," said Germain. "Even if the bill had passed last year, I wouldn't have felt comfortable launching this app in the middle of a worldwide pandemic."
Germain hopes the app will have broader impacts than just cutting down on traffic. He explained that he believes the app is necessary to help protect the environment and nature.
"Carpooling makes sense, and it's part of the solution to fight global warming," said Germain. "We need several actions, and I believe carpooling is one of them."
The app will also be aimed at building a community of people with shared interests. Germain said making friends is important to people right now.
The app will be available to download on iTunes and the Google Play store once it's allowed to go live in October.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS
MORE WAYS TO GET 9NEWS
Subscribe to our daily 9NEWSLETTER for top stories from 9NEWS curated daily just for you. Get content and information right now for can’t-miss stories, Next and Broncos content, weather and more delivered right to your inbox.
DOWNLOAD THE 9NEWS APP
HOW TO ADD THE 9NEWS APP TO YOUR STREAMING DEVICE
ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KUSA.
For both Apple TV and Fire TV, search for "9news" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.