The Internet has forever changed how a commuter can find a carpool. By accessing various carpooling and ridesharing Web sites, commuters can easily find their perfect carpools. The more traditional ways to find a carpool -- through clubs, PTAs and other social networks -- still exist for those who prefer a more personalized search method.
Some of the Web sites that are particularly useful for finding fellow commuters are eRideShare.com, CarpoolConnect.com and SwiftCommute.com. Some sites target specific areas, like metropolitan hubs, and others focus on one-time, long-distance ridesharing opportunities.
The process of starting a carpool through a Web-based service may include:
- Registration: You register and provide information about where you live, where you work, your work schedule, and other important details.
- Follow-up Information: You may include additional information and ask questions to tailor your potential carpool. (Or, you can wait until you have some possible matches and discuss your preferences directly with them.) Additional questions may include: Will the carpool members take turns driving or will one person chauffeur and the rest pitch in for gas? If the carpool pitches in for gas, will it be on a weekly or monthly basis? Will smoking be allowed? Is there a gender preference? How flexible is the carpool's schedule? What happens if someone must work late? How long will the carpool wait for late people?
- Communication and Etiquette: After you get in touch with future carpool partners, take some time discussing what you think is proper car etiquette. Can passengers read, talk on the phone or listen to music, or does the driver expect some interaction? How about eating breakfast -- can passengers or the driver eat in the car? Must the driver have a clean driving record before getting behind the wheel? Does the driver choose what goes on the radio, or does the choice rotate? Can carpoolers use their cell phones during the ride?
Finalizing these issues is one of the most important aspects of forming a successful carpool. Making sure you have a solid match will ensure you don't have to start the whole process all over again within a few weeks. Don't give up if the first few weeks are a bit bumpy -- it takes a while to work out all the kinks.
Before starting a carpool, make a list of priorities. Figure out what's most important to you and in what ways you can adjust. Then, all that remains is to settle procedural basics, like creating a backup plan in case that day's car breaks down.
It's pretty easy to start a carpool, although there are some challenges in ensuring a good setup, as well as keeping the carpool functioning over the long term. Let's find out what motivates people to start a carpool and what the benefits are.