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The Benefits of Carpooling

{ Posted on Apr 10 2010 by Marcus Alston }

Driving by yourself everyday to work is one of the worst things you can do from an economic and environmental standpoint.  Yet the overwhelming number of us (78%) do it every day.  Finally, in January of this year, I helped form a carpool for my drive to work and now I am reaping some expected and unexpected benefits.

There are quite a few people that live in my town that commute to my job each day.  I spoke with a few friends in my department about commuting and received sincere interest.  We did not want to make the group too big, at least at first, so we started with myself and two others: I will refer to them as Bill and Penny (nice names for a personal finance blog), although these are not their real names.

We agreed that the driver would pick up everyone at their house instead of at a pick-up point since we lived relatively close to each other and the farthest commute from the office is only about 7 miles.  At first, I was a little concerned about our schedules matching and how we would agree on a pick up and drop off schedule.  Bill liked to come in super early and leave relatively early (compared to me).  Penny would come in a little earlier than me and leave earlier than me, but later than Bill on average.  I liked to come in late and work late into the evening at the office.  I quickly realized that my schedule was the outlier and that Penny’s schedule was somewhat of a compromise in the middle of Bill and me, so we more or less decided to come in a little bit earlier than Penny’s schedule and leave a little later than Bill’s departure.  We also decided to remain flexible on the schedule and to simply try it out for a while.

Penny and I live closest to each other and the farthest from work and Bill is the closest to work.  For Bill, to get Penny and me, he has to drive away from work, get Penny and me, and then pass his house to get us to work.  Based on the amount we all have to drive everyday in the car pool, we agreed that Penny and I would each drive 2 days for every 1 day that Bill drove for a ratio of 2:2:1.

It has worked out great.  The expected benefits have included less gas consumed, less wear and tear on our cars, 1 car on the road most days instead of 3, a reduction in carbon monoxide on the road, more money saved, increased communication, information sharing.  Unexpected benefits have included, making me into a morning person, improving my texting skills, my wife and kids seeing me a lot more, getting to know Bill and Penny better, and forging nice and interesting friendships.  I really look forward to my commute to work now.

We commute as much as possible together, but it’s not every day.  Sometimes, one or more of us have meetings, other engagements, vacation days, sick days, etc. that means we can’t participate that day or be the driver, but we make sure to communicate in advance, often in person at work or on the way home, or by text after we have gone home for the day.

Carpooling Facts and Benefits

  • Carpooling makes “cents” and dollars.  Carpooling only one day per week for a year can save the average commuter $455 in total driving costs and 1,200 miles of additional wear on their vehicle.
  • The average US household has two mid-sized vehicles, which emit upwards of 20,000 pounds of carbon monoxide every year.  This costs the average household approximately 18% of its income, which is more than the amount spent on food.
  • Wear and tear on your car is slowed which may extend your vehicle’s life and means fewer vehicle replacements and more money in your pocket.
  • 27% of total vehicle miles traveled by Americans are to and from work, which amounts to 734 billion miles each year.
  • Every time you drive your car it contributes to building up the greenhouse gas layer by its carbon emissions, which is causing climate change and global warming.
  • Don’t just use carpooling for work.  Carpooling is good for other events or activities you attend as well such as school for the kids, lessons, workouts at the gym, etc.  Be creative.
  • By taking cars off the road, greenhouse gas emissions are lessened, congestion is cut, noise is decreased, and motor vehicle accidents are reduced.
  • The land area required for automobile parking is decreased, which reduces water runoff and pollution.
  • Carpooling can also lower drive times particularly if carpoolers can travel in a HOV (high-occupancy vehicles), HOT (high-occupancy toll), or HOVER (high-occupancy vehicles in express routes) lane. Driving in the carpool lane typically cuts travel time by a third.

Source:  Greenyour.com

Conclusion. Being a consumer miser and a eco-friendly person, I hope more and more people consider carpooling.  It is just one of the many eco-friendly things you can do to save money, cut expenses, spend less, and reduce debt.  With gas prices continuing to climb and the economy still enduring unprecedented economic challenges, carpooling makes “cents”.  It can really help stretch your budgetCarpooling can really save you money, wear and tear on your car, and help the environment too.  You may also make better friends with others and learn something you did not know before.  Also, with the advancements of technology and communication (seemingly everyone has a cell phone these days), and the increase in the number of ride share services and social networking sites, it is easier than ever to connect with people in your area that may want to commute together.

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5 Responses to “The Benefits of Carpooling”

  1. Great tips. Info is great for the environment and for the pocketbook. Will share with all my friends who cart there kids around from one sport to another.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Your comments and spreading the word to others really helps this site become alive, grow, and help others.

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