Saturday, June 07, 2008

Carpooling: earth and wallet-friendlier, and look who'll pay you to try it!

I love being able to commute by public transit, but I know there are some people who can't, for a variety of reasons. (My boyfriend is one of them!) If you drive to work but hate the costs, the stress, and/or the environmental impact, have you looked into carpooling?

There are tons of inherent benefits to carpooling-- spending less on gas, causing less pollution, spending less time behind the wheel and more time reading or otherwise relaxing (unless you're the one who drives every day), and often getting to work faster if it makes you eligible for express lanes on the highway.

But on top of that, there's the incentives. Many employers offer ridesharing incentives, and plenty of cities, counties, and states are providing their own incentives to new carpoolers; I found a dozen (scroll down for links!) but there may be one in your area that I missed. Other incentives that may be offered to carpoolers near you include free or discounted tolls and free or discounted parking spaces. And many cities and counties across the country also offer the Guaranteed Ride Home program; check your local program for details, but in the DC area, the way it works is that that if you carpool (or take public transit, or bike) and can't use your regular method of getting home due to an emergency, a child's illness, or unscheduled overtime, you get four free trips home a year (even covering cab fare if needed!)

Need help finding people to share your ride? This link has 21 websites that match people up like some with some nifty advanced technology to help you find a carpool that'll really work for your route. You can also try your local Craigslist, or Google your city and carpooling/ridesharing to see if there's a local board, like this one for the DC area.

And now, on to the incentives for new carpoolers...

Seattle, WA: up to $150 plus $20 for referring a friend
Redmond, WA: $50 gift card
Portland, OR: $50 gift card per person
New Jersey: $100 gas card
Atlanta, GA: $3 a day in (for first 3 months)
Bay Area, CA (nine counties): $10 per five days (for first 3 months)
Riverside County, CA: $2 a day (for first 3 months) in gift cards
San Bernardino County, CA: $2 a day (for first 3 months) in gift cards
San Mateo County, CA: $60-$80 per per person
Contra Costa County, CA: $60 gas card
San Ramon, CA: $60 gas scrip
Yolo County, CA: $25 a month per person for two months

If you have to drive to work, do you carpool? Why or why not? Would incentives like these coax you into giving it a try? After researching this post, I've sold my boyfriend on at least trying to find someone(s) to carpool with... it would have to be a morning-only carpool because he leaves at irregular times at the end of the day, but it's worth a shot. I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

bpt said...

Another advantage of carpooling is for the collective population. Reducing traffic congestion allows everyone to drive more efficiently and steadily. Of course, the problem is that as soon as congestion decreases, people hop back in their cars again.... But hopefully $200 a barrel oil will have the silver lining of motivating conservation, and encouraging more mass transit infrastructure.