The dictionary defines carpooling as "an arrangement among a group of automobile owners by which each owner in turn drives the others or their children to and from a designated place. The terms "rideshare", "carpool", and "vanpool" all have similar meanings, and are used interchangeably throughout this article." Rideshares are generally set up to be mutually beneficial to each person participating, as driving responsibilities and costs are shared. Save money, help the environment, benefit yourself, and help others by starting a carpool in your area!
- Cuts back on gasoline expenses if everybody is sharing the cost.
- Reduces road rage and stress caused by traffic, because each member of the carpool is in the driver's seat less often than they would be without the car pool.
- You won't sped as much on car-related expenses that need to be done every thousand miles, such as oil changes.
- A little companionship during rush hour sure makes it go by faster.
- A reduction in your "carbon footprint". Burning less fossil fuels does wonders for the environment.
- A faster highway commute. A number of major cities have "carpool only" lanes on the highway that move quicker during rush hours.
- Cuts back on wear & tear of the vehicle (so long as members take turns driving different cars).
- In an office environment, you will get to leave at a set time every day, rather than staying late here and there because the rest of the carpool is depending on your presence.
- The freedoms that come with driving your own car. For example, you won't be able to leave early unless you spend the money to call a cab. During lunch you will be limited to places that are within walking distance, or to tag along with another party to their destination.
- No more errands on the way home or back. You'll have to arrange to pick up your dry cleaning, or go grocery shopping another time.
- You may have to adjust your schedule or set your alarm clock a little earlier to be ready in time to pick up all commuters.
Who should carpool?
Ideally, all member in a carpool need arrive and depart at the same times, from the same venue. Many parents organize a car pool for their children to and from school. Other people that could reap more benefit that disadvantage from carpool are coworkers that live in the same area of town, people that go to attend a church group once a weeknight, or member of a sports team that practice a few times a week.
- Find people-Start finding people that need to arrive and depart from the same destination, at the same time. Contact potential participants via phone or e-mail. To reach a bigger audience, make and post flyers with contact information on bulletin boards at libraries, workplace break rooms, lunchrooms at schools, coffeehouses and other community-minded places. You can also register at ShareTheRide.com
- Make a schedule- Come up with a regular schedule. Your schedule should answer the following: What time should we arrive? What time should we depart? Who gets picked up/dropped off first? Who gets picked up/dropped off last? How many days a week does the carpool run? What is scheduled rotation of who gets driver responsibilities?
- Double check- Once you have found people that are interested in ridesharing, double check that are a match that would benefit the good of the carpool, rather than inconvenience it. Ask yourself: Do they need to be at the same place, at the same time as the rest of the carpool? Are they going to be picked up and dropped off in close proximity to everybody else? Is there any moral or personal issues that will cause disruptions in the future?
- Meet and plan- In order for the carpool to operate smoothy, you must ensure that everybody is on the same page. Arrange a meeting where all participants must attend and discuss: Payment division and collection, pick-up & drop-off times,who will be picked up first and last, who to contact in the case of an absence, how many vehicles will be in use, the rotation of driver responsibilities as well as any personal choices that must be made in group consensus such as smoking policy, radio station settings, air conditioner/heat temperature etc. The goal of the meeting should be that all members leave happy with the rideshare arrangements, and in complete understanding of the details.
- Exchange information- Have all participants exchange phone numbers, addresses, insurance information and emergency contacts.
- Try it out- Set up a trial run and make sure everything runs smoothy. If not, go back to the previous steps and correct any and all errors in the plan.
- Hit the road!- Ensure participant happiness and satisfaction with the way things are operating to maintain efficiency and keep things running smoothly.
Tips to help the rideshare run smoothy.
- Print out a weekly schedule and give one to each participant.
- Deter potential conflict. Avoid conversations regarding religion, politics, discrimination or anything else controversial. Try to keep conversation as light as possible.
- Don't be afraid of booting out a member that is constantly late or causes disruption. Remember, a rideshare should benefit the group.
- Have (and follow) a backup plan should a driver become absent.
- Fill up the gas tank before hitting the road, and keep stops to a minimum to make sure you arrive on time.
- Keep the vehicle clean and safe. Check the date on your registration, and keep up with scheduled maintenance.
- For courtesy & safety of the group, avoid doing anything illegal like speeding, drinking & driving or using illegal drugs.
- Plan ahead for holidays and other events that may cause traffic jams.
- Make sure the ride will be comfortable. Just because you car has five seats, doesn't mean you need to use all of them.