Carpooling. Yes that is a ridiculously obvious answer, but judging by the amount of people I see driving solo every day, it may be worth stating the obvious. Below I share my reasons for sharing the wheel.
The Monetary Argument for Carpooling
Finding someone you work with to split driving duties is an easy way to save money on gas and improve your commute. I started carpooling with my friend and co-worker Jason 2 weeks ago and have seen an immediate impact on my gas tank. We work in the same building and live within 5 minutes of each other, so it is fairly convenient for us to trade off riding shotgun. Now I have class one day a week, so we only carpool the remaining 4 days. Still, that cuts nearly 150 miles a week out of my driving, saving me big time at the pump. Before carpooling, I would fill up my car about once per week. At $3.00 per gallon that is about 36 bucks. Shaving off 2 days of commuting allows me to stretch my time between fill-ups to a full 2 weeks, saving me over $70.00 per month. I currently drive a 4 cylinder Honda, and get pretty good gas mileage, but if you are an SUV driver your savings could easily be well over 100 bucks per month. That does not include soft savings of reduced wear and tear and mileage on your vehicle.
The Social / Political Argument for Carpooling
Jason and I work together in the same part of the company, but in much different roles. That means that throughout the day we each accumulate a good deal of knowledge, much of which can be shared. Carpooling provides us both with 30 minutes of discussion time at the beginning and end of every work day. This is great for venting frustrations, generating ideas, sharing news, and avoiding workplace pitfalls. Now, I would be lying if I stated that this time is always filled with talk of work. More often we discuss sports, television, family, music, or the world in general. Guys being guys. As someone who is pretty busy, the time I get to spend just talking with friends is limited. Carpooling has turned my commute from a solitary functional necessity into an enjoyable social opportunity.
The Environmental Argument for Carpooling
Not a big motivator for me personally, but it feels good to know that I am reducing my consumption of fossil fuel, and thus reducing my impact on the environment. Further, it is one less car on a congested highway. Imagine if there were 1/2 as many cars on the road on your way to work tomorrow. Would that improve your commute? It is nice to be able to do something simple that can improve my life and my world.
The Logistics of Carpooling
In theory, Jason and I could find 3 other people to carpool along with us. Then I could probably go a full month between fill-ups, increasing my savings. However, it is important to remember that there are logistical elements to consider. Coordinating the schedules for 2 people is fairly simple. We are either carpooling or we aren’t. It is either my turn today or tomorrow. We leave for work at the same time and head home at the same time, and we live 5 minutes away from each other. In short, it is convenient. Every person you add reduces convenience exponentially, so proceed with caution. Still, if you can pull it off, more power to you.
As a typical American, I value my independence. Driving to work solo definately provides greater freedom of movement, but at a cost. For me, at least with gas at $3.00 per gallon and rising, the cost of carpooling is far outweighed by the benefits.
What would it take to get you to carpool?