I’ve never much cared for carpooling. There’s something about the independence of being in a car by myself that I find so appealing. Yet given the cost of gas, insurance, parking, and car maintenance, more and more people are exploring other options for their daily commute. Using a public transit service, biking to work and ride sharing are all much more popular commuting options.
Given our changing transportation habits, here is a rundown of the benefits of carpools, followed by some links to helpful resources to get you started.
Cost and Benefits of Carpooling
The American Automobile Association reports it costs an average of 54.1 cents per mile to drive a car. This average takes into account gasoline, oil, maintenance, tires and vehicle depreciation. On a 50-mile round-trip commute, the cost is $27.50 per day, $577 per month, and an eye-popping $6,924 per year. Once you factor in tolls and the cost of parking, your commute gets even more expensive.
Using your car less will reduce the amount of gasoline and maintenance you need to operate it, which will save you money. Some insurance companies even offer discounts for reduced driving. Also, if you lease a car, you might be able to reduce your monthly payment by leasing at a lower annual mileage if you intend on ride sharing.
Carpools offer Flexibility
You don’t have to ride share every day or even roundtrip, which makes it a very flexible option. If there are certain days of the week that work best for you, just ride share on those days. Many ride shares make things as convenient as possible for all riders by making the arrangements as close to door-to-door as possible. By ride sharing, you can often have a faster commute because you can take advantage of the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes that are restricted to vehicles with more than one rider.
Environmental Impact of Carpooling
Carpooling can significantly reduce greenhouse emissions. According to one report, driving just 10 percent less, by walking, cycling, carpooling, or taking public transit, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.2 to 0.8 tons per year. By driving less it will help improve the air quality and result in cleaner air. In fact, carpooling three days a week can cut individual ozone-producing emissions by 30 percent (source).
If you’re not sure how to get started there are various rideshare websites that can help you get connected with other commuters in your area. Below are five online resources to help get you on your way to saving money and reducing your transportation footprint.
- Ridesearch – helps you find other commuters in the area for a safe, secure rideshare experience.
- Ride Share Directory – offers a national and regional directory of ride share links
- eRideShare – connects you with other commuters and gives tips on ride sharing
- Commute Smart – connects commuters in the Southern California area
- Ride Share Online – helps arrange daily commutes and cross-country trips
- nuride – is an online community where you can save money and earn rewards when you carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, telecommute or take public transit.
- Craigslist – offers rideshare listings by city.
- Carpool World: Offers free rideshare resources and an app.
- iCarPool: This app helps you find rideshare and carpooling opportunities.
The Future of Carpooling
Since we originally wrote this piece, several significant events have occurred in the transportation industry. First, services such as Uber and Lyft have entered the market. Second, we are close to the reality of autonomous vehicles. Both of these developments have the potential to upend carpooling, but they won’t eliminate it. Particularly in urban areas like where I live (Washington, D.C. area), ridesharing can save both time and money.
If you use other carpool services, please leave a comment below.
And for more money-saving tips, check out our 51 Painless Ways to Save Money.