Carpooling is a great way to save money, save time and reduce your carbon footprint. Successful carpooling does involve quite a bit of coordination to make sure everyone gets picked up and dropped off at the right place, people are compensated and everyone is happy with the arrangement.
Here are a few tips for successful carpooling.
The first place to look for carpoolers is your immediate circle.
If you're driving the kids to school, the easiest place to look are parents of other kids in the neighborhood.
If you're driving to work, the easiest place to look are co-workers who also live in your area.
If you're deliberately looking for carpoolers and can't find them in your immediate circle, look on Craigslist. Craigslist has a very active carpooling community. Check it a few times a week and you'll very likely find people looking to carpool the same route.
Aim to Go above the Carpool Lane Limit
Different states have different rules about the carpool lane. In some states two people qualify for the carpool lane, while in others three people are required.
Using the carpool lane allows you to save time by driving faster, and reduces your gas consumption as well.
Try to always be above the carpool lane cut-off.
Only Pick Up & Drop Off in a Certain Area
One big mistake a lot of carpoolers make is going too far out of their way to pick people up.
Remember - the main purpose of carpooling is to save money on gas. If you're spending time and gas going to pick people up, it defeats the purpose.
Only pick people up in your area. Only drop off near your area.
Costs & Compensation
Agree on costs and compensation before you carpool. Often times it's as simple as splitting the costs each way.
Sometimes you might decide that the driver pitches in a little bit less than everyone else. If you're rotating different vehicles and some vehicles have lower gas mileage, you might have to discuss that upfront as well.
Discussing the costs upfront, before agreeing to carpool, helps avoid awkward money conversations after the fact.
Clear Cancellation Policy
Make it clear to everyone how cancellations work. For example, send a text to everyone involved 24 hours beforehand if you need to cancel.
This helps avoid hard feelings if someone suddenly has something come up.
Carpooling, when done correctly, can save a lot of time and money while being a great social experience for everyone involved. The tips above will help you avoid many of the common carpooling pitfalls and make the whole experience smoother and easier.