How to start a successful carpool

Carpool commuters greet each other.
Setting ground rules can make for a happy carpool experience.

We all want to save money and help improve air quality, and since October is Share a Ride Month, it is a great time to start a carpool or vanpool. You might be interested in ridesharing but may not know how to start or what to do when you get a carpool together.

There are many ways to put your carpool together but here are some tips:

  • Put the Idea Out There – First you need find people to rideshare with. There are different options, whether you are looking at carpooling with other people from work, people who live or work close together or trying to find new people to carpool with. Float the idea out there to people you know or engage your company’s travel coordinator or human resources department. Don’t know anyone, then try the carpool apps or search carpool databases.
  • Name Someone to Be the Carpool Organizer – Once you have you group nominate someone to be the carpool organizer. They don’t have to do all the work but have them coordinate everything so everyone is on the same page. Create a structure to communicate everything.
  • Lay Out Guidelines and Safety Rules – Everyone has different rules for their cars and their own likes and dislikes. When creating a carpool make sure everyone is on the same page with some simple guidelines and rules to keep everyone safe and happy.
  • Create a Schedule That’s Fair for All Drivers – Make sure no one is driving too much or too little. Would someone want to drive more in exchange for gas money? Develop a firm, regular schedule.
  • Get an App to Help with Carpool Scheduling – There are apps that can help keep your carpool organized and make sure everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • Do Monthly Updates – What works? What does not work? Check in with all members of the carpool each month to keep things running smooth and ensure all members are happy.

Once you have your carpool you will need to create the guidelines and rules stated above.

Guidelines and safety rules:

  • Create Rules – All members should discuss and decide on issues like the radio, conversation, smoking, reading and eating. Not everyone wants to chat on the ride. Some people don’t allow food or drinks in their vehicles.
  • Drive Safely – Make safety a rigid rule. Speeding, taking chances or just plain negligence should never be tolerated.
  • Compromise – Be willing to compromise or to modify your personal habits. This may mean holding off that first cigarette until after carpooling, using less perfume or cologne or listening to music that does not particularly suit you. Be flexible and understanding of other people’s opinions and be willing to try new ideas.
  • Adapt – You don’t have to stick to one schedule or one set of rules. If the group agrees you can always alter the number of travel days or in-car rules. Common sense, dependability, courtesy, planning and accommodation are essential for a successful carpool.
  • Expenses – Agree in advance on reimbursement for driving expenses. Then set regular payment schedules. Does everyone chip in for gas evenly? Does the driver cover the gas on their days?
  • Clean Car Policy – Make a “clean car” policy and stick to it. The car that carries you to and from work should be clean, safe, comfortable and regularly serviced.
  • Be Punctual – This applies to both drivers and riders. Establish a predetermined amount of time the carpool will wait before driving on. Create consistent rules for cancelling or no showing.
  • Hygiene – Practice good personal hygiene.

Some final thoughts. You don’t have to commit to carpooling every day nor do you have to stay with something that is not working for you. Start with one day a week and see how it works. If it is good, then add additional days. Even one day a week can save money and help air quality. Not sure you want to commit to that? Consider just trying one or two times and then reevaluate. The secret to a successful carpool is good communication.