Consider Carpooling and Ride Sharing Consider Carpooling and Ride Sharing

One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases is transportation. The United States is the biggest contributor, emitting around 20% of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. In this country, greenhouse gas from transportation is one-third of total emissions. You only need to observe traffic on a busy interstate highway to see why this is a problem. Millions of people drive great distances in their daily commute to work. This article discusses how to "share the ride."

What is Carpooling?

Carpooling, also called ride sharing or lift sharing, is the shared use of a car or van for the daily commute to work. Although each passenger may own a vehicle, the carpoolers ride together, sharing expenses and an interest in environmental concerns. These people are conscious of the cost of transportation, and are aware of its effect on the environment.

How About Vanpooling?

Vanpooling is much the same as carpooling except that a vanpool is required to have at least 10 regular riders. The Federal Highway Administration offers no-interest loans to use for purchasing vans for this use. Tax incentives may include flex spending of pre-tax dollars for van maintenance and vanpooling expenses. In some vanpools, fees are paid for an empty seat for up to 3 months.

How Much Can I Save?

Not only do you save in gasoline costs, but you can save up to 50% in car maintenance, repair and parking costs. If you drive alone and your roundtrip is 50 miles, your expenses for the year can add up to $4,000.00. You can save half of that per year by just sharing a ride with one person. Let's look at some real time figures:

COST PER PERSON PER YEAR *
Trip Distance         |    Alone     |    2 Person Carpool     |    Vanpool
30 miles                 |    $3,648   |     $1,824                        |    $842
50 miles                 |    $4,085   |     $2,042                        |    $909
100 miles               |    $6,464   |     $3,232                        |    $1,101

The advantage in financial savings alone is obvious. But not only does it make fiscal sense, it also helps save the environment. For every passenger you carry on a 20 mile trip, you save a gallon of gas. For every gallon you save, one pound of toxic and carcinogenic pollutants and 20 pounds of carbon dioxide do not reach the atmosphere.

How Do I Begin Carpooling?

The Internet has made it very easy to enroll in carpool programs. A search on the keyword phrase "carpooling" gives 2,580,000 results. Register for a free account with Carpoolconnect.com and perform a search for your destination. A sample search from zip code 48813 to a neighboring town 12 miles away at 48827 found 5 results -- and that is a small town. Just think what it would be for New York City!

What is Slugging?

Slugging is an unofficial ad-hoc group that shares rides, rather like hitchhiking. The group offers free rides and often publishes routes and the locations for pick up and drop off. Sluggers will drive or ride to share-a-ride locations, metro stations, bus stops, and free parking lots for carpoolers. Sluggers stand on line, and drivers pull up to the queue and announce their destination and the number of passengers they can handle. The vehicle fills and the driver departs. Slugging works great because of the ability to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes during the morning and evening commute. Many people don't wish to be involved in a formal carpooling or vanpooling enterprise, but if they utilize slugging, they can use these lanes, thus relieving traffic congestion and cutting down on pollution because there is less stop-and-go traffic during gridlock.

What About Disadvantages?

As with anything, there is a down side. Running errands at lunch time is usually out because you are riding with someone else. There is the disadvantage of insurance liability when you transport others in your vehicle. It tends to be complicated to organize a reliable carpool, and is difficult to maintain due to changing travel patterns and needs.

Carpooling, vanpooling and slugging make sense. Utilizing these transportation methods not only saves you money, but is friendly to the environment. Give it a try today.

* Source: Chittenden County Transportation Authority

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Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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