With constant gridlocks on all of the major metropolitan highways, it can be tempting to consider carpooling or other alternatives to driving. On a nationwide scale, the average American driver spends 40 hours per year stuck in traffic. For urban areas in the Pacific Northwest, those numbers are even higher (we’re looking at you, 405). But thankfully, there are some options that’ll get you off the road faster, so that you can get back to doing what matters most. This week we’re looking at ridesharing solutions and the future of commuting. Read on to get the full scoop.
The current state of carpooling
We’ve all heard that carpooling reduces the number of vehicles on the road. With fewer cars, there’s less carbon, pollution, and gasses entering the air. This is great for the environment, but what does it look like for commuters?
Thanks to the HOV lanes, choosing to share a vehicle can cut your commute time in half. Despite this appealing fact, carpooling still isn’t a popular method of transportation on a broad scale. StatisticBrain.com reports that only 10% of the current population carpools. This works out to a staggering $1.1 billion dollars in savings per year (through gas, vehicle maintenance, tolls, etc). They also report that 40% of carpoolers are pairing up with other people in their home or apartment complex, due to convenience.
With metropolitan areas experiencing high population growth, traffic is continuously becoming worse. So cities like Seattle are taking steps to encourage ride sharing. They do this by offering perks like carpool-only parking that may make it more appealing than other methods of transportation. Seattle’s Department of Transportation even launched a service that helps carpoolers locate parking in the busy city. The city also reports that if all commuters chose to carpool just one day per week, traffic could be reduced by up to 20%.
What’s changing in the carpooling world?
Vehicle sharing is one of the most important topics plaguing our future. With the population growing at an exponential rate, urban planners simply cannot keep up with the increasing demands on infrastructure. Road repairs and expansions are costly, time-consuming, and negatively impact traffic before completion. The more that people carpool, the less our roads need repairs, expansions, tolls, and specialty taxes. This is causing cities to unveil HOV-incentive programs.
Technology is also making a positive change in this arena. Carpooling used to be coordinated by word of mouth at the office, but thanks to modern technology it’s easier than ever to coordinate a shared ride. Many apps act like social media platforms, where users create profiles, upload photos and interact on newsfeeds. They allow potential users to “match” with others who use similar routes and choose commuters they think they’d enjoy. It can be surprisingly easy to find a carpool that you click with, thanks to how transparent some of the apps are.
With ridesharing apps, you can also sign up for a single ride to test things out. Unlike blind dating, there’s no pressure to commit and no expectation for a second date. Also unlike blind dating, it saves money on gas, gets you to work faster, and most of the time you’ll walk away with a few new friends.
How do you find (or start) a good carpool?
Carpooling apps like Hitch-a-Ride, Waze Carpool, uberPOOL, and Carpool Kids make it easy to find someone along your route. Hitch-a-Ride is ranked as one of the top carpooling apps right now, thanks to its cool in-app features. It has its own unique newsfeed, Facebook integration, and payment arrangements. A user can sign up and use it once or use it daily and there are no minimum or maximum limits.
With Waze Carpool, you tell the app where you live and work. It creates a route for you and pairs you with other riders who live along that route. Payment is pre-determined by the distance of the commute, and the payment is transferred to the driver via the app (like Uber and Lyft). UberPOOL operates in a very similar way, where it pairs you with others along your route and automatically splits the costs between you. Carpool Kids is another great option that’s tailored to busy parents. It allows caregivers to create schedules for school drop offs, after-school activities, and more. It then allows parent groups to assign drivers and organizes a schedule that syncs to members’ smartphones.
If you prefer to be the one behind the wheel, it’s easy to create your own carpool on any of these platforms, as well. Upload your information as a driver, and tell your app that you’re interested in ride sharing. Once you’re matched with a potential rider, you’ll be notified and have the option of accepting or rejecting.
What does the future look like?
As communities get more and more dense, the need for carpooling is undeniable. Where ride sharing used to be an option, it will soon become a necessity. The desire to be independent and alone behind the wheel will be replaced by so many disadvantages that carpooling will be the clear choice. Due to this, we’ll also see more consumers selling their vehicles to accommodate the changing trends. New vehicle sales will decrease while a larger number of used vehicles will hit the market. When this point comes, TRED will be here to get you top dollar for your used car. In the meantime, shop our inventory and find the perfect vehicle for your carpool karaoke needs at TRED.com
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