Thanks to advances in technology and the increasing popularity of social networking, sharing rides is finally becoming easier and more popular in the United States.
A recent New York Times article reports that apps and social media sites have led to a surge in carpooling. The article notes that both long-distance travelers and commuters are connecting on a wide variety of websites — such as like Zimride.com, Ridejoy.com, Avego.com, Nuride.com, Rideshare.com and eRideShare.com — and that later this summer, a German company, Carpooling.com, will start a trial run in the Northeast. The article notes historic problems with carpooling and ride sharing — the fact that people simply have different places they want to go, and also have safety worries about getting into cars with strangers — are being erased thanks to the advancement of digital technology and social networking which has “removed a significant amount of barriers” to carpooling and ridesharing.
The websites discussed in the story vary in the process of matching drivers with passengers, security protocols and how payment is calculated and made. Some sites allow participants to settle on the cost of a ride; others charge by mile traveled. The profit-making sites take a percentage of the fee charged to riders, but it’s free to sign up for the service. Proponents of ride-sharing say that, by design, it is an effective way to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emission, as well as to save money on gasoline and car maintenance.
So far, however, the U.S. carpooling rate has remained stubbornly low. The percentage of people carpooling has hovered near 10 percent for several years, according to Census survey data. About 5 percent of commuters use public transportation, and 76 percent drive alone.
But carpooling pays off, and the list of benefits of carpooling is long:
- Reducing your gasoline costs, tolls and insurance
- Reducing the cost of depreciation of your personal vehicle
- Reducing the need to buy or own a car; when you ride and don’t drive your vehicle to work and therefore save on wear and tear
- Making personal vehicle(s) more available to other family members on weekdays
- Encouraging new friendships
- Reducing stress
- Eliminating temptation for illegal driving and reducing absenteeism, if a driver’s license is suspended or revoked
Carpooling also benefits employers and the environment by:
- Reducing congestion within existing parking areas
- Reducing capital costs of building additional parking spaces
- Improving employee morale
- Improving community relations by reducing neighborhood traffic and parking problems
- Reducing absenteeism and late arrivals
- Reducing traffic congestion
- Improving air quality
- Conserving energy
Greater Mercer TMA is here to help you find a carpool you’re comfortable with. If you work in Mercer County, Princeton Forrestal Center, Montgomery Township or Ocean County, Greater Mercer TMA can get you on your way. Use our online application to get started. We will work to find you a match and will send you a list of names of commuters who live and work near you and have similar schedules. Check out our classifieds and see if you can find a carpool partner.
Furthermore, we have two complementary programs that make carpooling even more appealing: our Emergency Ride Home Program, which gives registered carpoolers a free lift home if they have to leave early or stay late at work, and our Green Commuter Rewards Program, which offers carpoolers rebates for online purchases. With Green Commuter Rewards you’ll have access to over 1000 online stores that offers discounts and rebates for purchases. For more information, click here.