Time to Get Back in the Pool?

Remember the time around the 70’s when we all car pooled? Most families had only one car, gas was rising in price, we were more social and less in a hurry. One in four Americans carpooled for these and other reasons. Now less than 12% of drivers share rides. Do we need to rethink this even if it means a bit of “inconvenience?” Commutes into the major (and not so major) cities can be frustrating at the least, but we feel compelled to use our own car. We’re not suggesting that sharing is for everyone, just as mass transit is not viable for all—but for those who can consider it, let’s look at some facts. It can lessen traffic jams and that frustrating “hurry up and wait” we all are familiar with. It can cut in half (or more) the costs related to commuting—gas, oil, vehicle depreciation, tolls, parking—among others. And the  important concern—the emissions generated by so many automobiles on the road. Cars parked in the driveways of America have risen 60% since 1980, whereas the number of Americans has grown by one-third.

The technology minded can take heart in the fact there are new ways to find that ideal ride(r). Try these web sites: eRideShare and Zimride, which serve specific needs and areas of the population. Colleges and universities have signed on with the latter and have more than 2000 active users. Got an iPhone? There’s an app for it—Avego—promoting real time ridesharing. You can even include small electronic payments from riders to drivers.

In 2008 AAA told us it cost an average of 54.1 cents per mile to drive a car. This includes gasoline, oil, maintenance, tires and depreciation. Not included are tolls and parking, insurance and registration. Going 40 miles? That’s $21.64.  And that’s in 2008, not today’s gas prices. Alternatives, anyone?

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