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Carpooling: The Commuting Alternative

Carpooling is two or more commuters riding in the same vehicle.  This allows you to ride in the commuter lane, if there is one in your area, which will often make your ride to work quicker.  © istockphoto.com/Tim McCaig Carpooling is two or more commuters riding in the same vehicle. This allows you to ride in the commuter lane, if there is one in your area, which will often make your ride to work quicker. © istockphoto.com/Tim McCaig

By Lauren Brown
Provided by WorldNow

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005 nine out of ten people drove to work and 70% of them drove alone.  With rising fuel costs and concerns about the environment this is clearly not the most efficient practice.  If you do not have a reliable public transportation system and don't want to give up your car there is an answer:  Try carpooling to work.

Carpooling is a great way to do your part in reducing your carbon footprint as well as reducing the amount of money you spend on high priced gas each day.  In the 2005 survey, carpooling was the next largest means of transportation to work, even greater than public transportation.   

Carpooling is two or more commuters riding in the same vehicle.  This allows you to ride in the commuter lane, if there is one in your area, which will often make your ride to work quicker.  Talk to co-workers or neighbors and see if you can set up a carpooling schedule.  If not, there are a number of services that will match you up with someone in your area.  Do remember that you are potentially getting into a car with a stranger so be sure that you feel comfortable with him or her. 

You might become uncomfortable with the idea of having to share your quiet commute with others, even strangers.  However, it's helpful to look at the bigger picture.  Think about the money you could save and the stress in the long run that you'll be avoiding by reducing your costs when you feel like you are losing some of your independence.   It will become second nature once you establish a convenient and effective system. 

Reasons to carpool

1. Reduce traffic. Who doesn't hate getting stuck in traffic? This is actually taking a step to reduce it. Think about how much congestion would be reduced if everyone at your office carpooled.

2. Save money on gas. With gas costing at least $4/gallon around the country everyone is looking to save as much as they can. Think about how many times a week you have to fill up your tank for your commute to work.

3. Save wear and tear on your car. Most people put the most mileage on their cars by commuting to work. Think about the money you'll save with reduced oil changes, tire rotation, and other maintenance expenses when you give your car more rest.

4. Alleviate stress from daily commute. Are there days when you're stressed before you even get to work? You might not realize it but driving requires a lot of concentration and can be very stressful. If you're worrying about being on time and fighting traffic, you can get very frazzled. Carpooling is a great way to share some of that burden.

5. Help minimize carbon emissions. More than ever we are hearing about the deleterious effects of individuals' contribution to global warming. Do your part to reduce your carbon footprint by taking an extra car off the road, and cutting down on the levels of carbon dioxide released into the environment.

6. Avoid the hassle of parking. Once you actually get to work, you have to find a parking spot. Unless you have a permanent spot this can be time consuming and frustrating. When you don't drive you'll be able to avoid parking all together, on the days you do drive there will be one (or more) less cars to fight for a spot.

7. Cut down on high tolls or fees. In recent years, toll costs have gone up. Even with convenience technologies like E-Z pass, you are still paying a large fee, and the lanes are often not much quicker than regular cash lanes

8. Earn Rewards. There are programs throughout the country that actually give rewards for carpooling. In Atlanta you can receive a gas card each month through the Clean Air Campaign. You can get cash rewards or gift cards from the Transportation Commission in San Francisco. Do some research and you might find a similar program in your area.

Tips for an effective carpool

  • Be sure that drivers have valid licenses and insurance
  • Set a schedule but be flexible if changes arise
  • Establish rules regarding smoking and eating habits in vehicles
  • Discuss the route you will take to work
  • Determine meeting points or pick-ups
  • Set a chain of communication
  • Do your best to be on time since you are effecting other people's schedules

Figure out the cost of your commute to get a realistic estimate of how much you are spending on your commute to work and how much you could actually benefit from carpooling.    

  • How do you get to work?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Public Transportation
    13%
    16 votes
    By Car
    52%
    65 votes
    Carpool
    17%
    21 votes
    Bike
    10%
    12 votes
    Walk
    2%
    3 votes
    Other
    6%
    8 votes
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
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