Carpooling

“Man is the animal that intends to shoot himself out into interplanetary space, after having given up on the problem of an efficient way to get himself five miles to work and back each day. ”
-Bill Vaughan

It’s very simple, you only need one or more passengers to create a carpool.  To find someone to ride with, talk to your coworkers, neighbors and friends. You might even ask the Human Resources office at your work site to help find someone that lives within your zip code. By alternating vehicles and drivers equally among carpoolers, the issue of money can be ignored.  Another option might be to share fuel costs with those who live farther away.

myCommuteSolutions

Looking for a carpool buddy?  Check out myCommuteSolutions, which is our carpool matching and trip-planning tool.  You can search for bike routes, discover transit routes and log your commute.  The myCommuteSolutions site has an easy tracking system through the commute calendar, which enables users to follow their cost savings, calories burned, fuel saved and pollution reduction.  To connect with potential carpool buddies, you can log on to myCommuteSolutions.com, and create a profile that will allow you to use the free carpool matching service.

A key feature of myCommuteSolutions is the ability to set up custom sites for business and employees can search for carpool buddies within your organization.  Have your employer contact Commute Solutions to create their own custom ridematching sub-system and find a co-worker to carpool with! This is available to both individuals and businesses at no cost.

The myCommuteSolutions site serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties.

Carma Real-Time Carpooling

Carma is a smartphone app that lets you arrange carpools in the community anytime, anywhere.  Just plug in your commute route and schedule, and it will find nearby people with similar commutes that you can share a ride with.  You can contact people, set up a trip, and share your transportation costs right through the app.  Carma is free to join, and carpoolers get full toll reimbursements on 183A and Manor Expressway in North Austin.  Visit www.car.ma/austin to sign up!

Universities and Colleges

The University of Texas encourages carpooling by offering reserved carpool spaces, reduced permit fees, Share Passes, and automatic enrollment in the Guaranteed Ride Home program.

Austin Community College offers registered carpools with 2+ members can park in the convenient Carpool Parking spaces on campus before 10 a.m.

Texas State University offers a number of transportation options.

Want to track gas prices? Visit AAA to get started or visit our website for the Commute Cost Calculator.

Carpooling Basics

If you are reading this page, chances are you’re considering carpooling as a commute option. Carpooling can be set up to be as structured or as flexible as you and your fellow carpoolers want. To work well, it does require some coordination, cooperation and flexibility from those participating.

Below are a few questions people often have when they’re just starting out. Keep in mind that it can take some time to create a good, functioning carpool. Be patient with it. If your carpool is brand new, everyone should agree to try it out on a trial basis for a few days. If you decide it’s not for you, you are under no obligation to continue.

How will carpooling benefit me?
There are many benefits to carpooling. If you are currently driving every day, you’re going to save money on your commute costs by carpooling. In some cases, depending on the length of your commute and the number of days you don’t drive, the savings can be significant. You’ll also enjoy less wear and tear on your vehicle because you’ll be driving it less. You’ll endure less stress on your commute. Finally, by driving less you’ll be helping to keep the air clean.

How do I know if carpooling is right for me?
You really won’t know if it’s a good long-term solution for you until you try it. But, going in, you should be willing to do two things. First, you should be willing to work out a schedule that is convenient for you and the others in the carpool. Second, you should be willing to compromise a bit on conditions in the carpool, if necessary. For example, if everyone likes to listen to a different radio station, the car radio may not be tuned to your favorite station every day.

How do I find other carpoolers?
You can find carpoolers in a number of ways. You can create an account using myCommuteSolutions, our free matching service, and search for other people in your area who are interested in carpooling. You can put the word out at work that you’d like to carpool, either by sending out an e-mail or posting a notice in the lunchroom (download the Commute Solutions “Carpooler Wanted flyer in color and “Carpool Wanted flyer in black and white. You can also advertise through your neighborhood association, your local supermarket, coffee shop or your place of worship.

Carpool members can include work or school associates you already know, or people who live near you and work at a nearby employer. Occasionally the RideShare program ends up helping commuters meet their neighbors by matching people who work at the same company, live near each other but have never met.

I’ve just found some matches using myCommuteSolutions. What should I do now?
You can send an instant e-mail to any of your matches through myCommuteSolutions, and you don’t even have to write the message; just send the pre-written one if you prefer.

Once you’ve made the initial contact and the match has responded, we suggest you set up a time and place to meet in person to talk about possible carpool arrangements. Some good topics to address at this first meeting include:

  • How often you would like to carpool, at least initially
  • Who wants to drive, and how often
  • Meetup/pickup time and place for both ends of the commute

If it looks like everyone wants to try out carpooling, you should:

  • Choose a date to start
  • Exchange cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • Make sure drivers have valid licenses and auto insurance

Is carpooling safe?
Statistics show carpooling is very safe. However, you must keep your personal safety in mind. If you are considering carpooling with people you do not know, you should meet with them in person beforehand. This meeting will serve two purposes. First, you’ll have a chance to discuss your ideas on setting up a carpool without obligating yourself to do it. Second, you’ll be able to assess your comfort level with the people. Ask questions and trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about someone, don’t carpool with that person. You can simply say that you’ve decided carpooling won’t work for you.

Are carpoolers supposed to take turns driving?
They can, but it’s not a requirement. In fact, a carpool may include people who will not drive at all. In these cases the “riders” should plan to pay the driver an agreed-upon amount to help out with driving costs. (See below for tips on determining a fair cost for non-drivers.)

If a carpool does switch drivers, this can be done on a daily basis, a weekly basis or longer, depending on the carpoolers’ preferences. This may change over time as new people join the carpool.

Do I have to carpool every day?
Not unless you want to. Carpooling is flexible enough so you can choose the number of days you’d like to share the ride. If you have occasional before- or after-work commitments, just let your carpoolers know that you won’t be available those days.

What are some ways to organize picking up and dropping off people on carpool days?
There are a number of different ways to organize the logistics. If carpool members live close to each other, then the driver can simply come by each person’s house to pick them up. If that’s not feasible, then carpoolers can meet at one of the members’ houses or a centrally located public place. Keep in mind that there are also park-and-ride lots throughout the region that can serve as a meetup point.

On the other end of the commute, carpoolers can plan to meet at a centrally located spot for the driver to pick them up if they don’t work at the same company.

Are there any insurance or liability issues I need to be aware of?
Insurance policies vary, and it is a good idea to check your policy — primarily the Exceptions/Exclusions portions. General liability insurance covers passengers, and most policies would not exclude carpool members, but it is worth checking. Another good reason to put in a call to your agent is to see if you qualify for a carpooling discount.

How much should carpool passengers pay?
This is perhaps one of the key questions asked by potential carpoolers and, unfortunately, there is no simple answer. It will vary depending on the carpool. In carpools where driving is equally shared, no money usually changes hands as each member is using their personal vehicle an equal amount of time. When only one person does the driving, or when there is an unequal split of driving responsibilities, the cost-sharing arrangement must be discussed by those in the carpool.

The carpool members are free to base the costs on whatever they may choose. However, some guidelines to consider include how much the driver spends on gas and wear and tear.

What if I have an appointment or errands to run before, during or after work?
If you have an appointment or errands before or after work and need your car, don’t plan to carpool that day. If your appointment is during work, then plan to drive the carpool that day so you’ll have your car.

If you currently are in the habit of using your car to do errands, go to lunch or go to appointments during the work day, it’s a good idea to ease yourself into carpooling by doing it just once a week initially. Then, find ways to reduce your dependence on driving so you can carpool more often: bring your lunch to work, bundle your errands or take care of them online if possible.

Is there such a thing as good carpool etiquette?
Of course! Every carpool is unique, but good etiquette is essential to keep it running smoothly. Good etiquette takes into account communication, courtesy and the safety of everyone in the carpool. See this list of do’s and don’ts for carpoolers:

Carpool Etiquette

DO:

  • Communicate with your fellow carpoolers. If you’re running a few minutes late, call them and let them know. If you can’t carpool on a particular day due to a schedule conflict, give your carpool partners ample notice so they can make other arrangements.
  • Drive safely at all times.
  • Keep your vehicle clean and in good condition.
  • Respect any other restrictions the carpool has agreed on, such as smoking, eating or drinking.

DON’T:

  • Make a habit of being late.
  • Ask your carpoolers to make extra stops along the way so you can take care of personal errands. The carpool is meant to help everyone with their commutes, period.
  • Bring up controversial topics like religion or politics unless you know your fellow carpoolers well. While some people enjoy debating the issues, others may prefer a quieter commute.
  • Have lengthy cell phone conversations while you’re in the carpool.
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