If carpooling and vanpooling offer benefits to us and our community, why don’t more people do it?
For starters, the benefits of sharing the ride include:
- fewer vehicles on the road
- fewer vehicles lead to improved commute times
- reduced vehicle emissions leads to cleaner air
- reduced costs on gasoline and less wear and tear on your vehicle
- reduced stress if someone else drives during rush hour
Despite the benefits, sharing the ride may have challenges that require some problem solving. By being aware of the challenges, you can find simple solutions to help ridesharing work for your commute. Here are a few pointers:
To start a carpool, how do you find riders? Ideally, you would find other employees at work who have similar schedules and live in the same part of town. If that is the case, try word of mouth or even place a note on a community bulletin board to get started. Many human resources departments will help you find riders.
Another resource to finding a carpool match is Sunrideshare.org, a free online database to find a carpool partner who may work similar hours and travel the same route to work.
Coordinating schedules among carpool members can be one of the more difficult aspects of ridesharing. Even if all the participants work at the same place and keep similar schedules, getting everyone ready when they need to can be a challenge. Even with the same destination and start time, everyone has different challenges before work, including getting themselves and their family ready for the day.
Good communication is the key.
“To make the carpooling situation as streamlined and hassle-free as possible, set up a consistent plan and schedule,” explained Michelle Pratt in her article for safeintheseat.com. “Your group needs to consider all the details and work out any logistical issues before the carpool gets started.”
Before starting the carpool, have a detailed conversation about everyone’s morning schedules and when they will be picked up depending on the driver and the route they must take. Create a text group and communicate each weekend to ensure there are no surprises or changes in schedules.
Consider using a carpool app that will help the group keep in contact and can even plan routes and schedules.
Riding with strangers or even work acquaintances can be daunting. Carpoolers may have safety concerns about riding with people they hardly know.
Ideally, you would create a carpool with people at your own place of business. Even if you don’t know them well, odds are someone in your organization does.
Before you get in a car with someone, meet them in person first.
“Meet your fellow commuters in person,” noted Kathryn Kellogg in her article on wikihow.com. “Especially if you’re commuting with strangers, you want to meet with everyone at a public location before getting in a car together! Meeting in person is a great chance to assess whether or not you trust potential carpoolers.”
Kellogg stressed to trust your gut. If someone seems off, it is better to not risk it.
Meeting as a group in person before you carpool is an opportunity to establish boundaries and ground rules for the carpool, which can include identifying safety measures, as well as other forms of common courtesy including preferences on music, hygiene, smoking and other behaviors that might bother the driver or passengers.
The easiest way to rideshare is to split the costs evenly, but what happens if some of the people live farther away or use a vehicle that is less fuel efficient?
Like most carpooling problems, this one can be mitigated with good communication. Decide ahead of time how the costs will be split. Will everyone chip in each week for gas? If so, is it an even split or do people who live farther away pay more? Does the driver receive discounts on any costs for days behind the wheel?
Use a reliable carpool app, a spreadsheet or just a plain old notebook to break down the costs and expenses associated with each person’s portion. Every few weeks or months, discuss the costs and make sure everyone is content with what they are spending.
Capitalone.com says each participant pays for their share of the gas at the very least but gives insight on how to share the cost of oil changes, tune-ups, and other standard procedures with the people in the carpool.
“This level of cost sharing is generally only viable for daily carpooling arrangements,” said CapitalOne.com. “If your carpooling agreement simply involves each passenger taking turns driving their own vehicle, splitting gas for each shared ride may be the preferred arrangement for cost sharing.”
Addressing these challenges with good communications and proven problem-solving tools can make carpooling more attractive to a wider range of individuals. With benefits and solutions to challenges in hand, now might be a good time to try ridesharing and see if it fits into your routine.