Especially in areas of high traffic, like in the city of Los Angeles, carpooling is a great solution to beating the traffic, keeping your sanity, getting home at a reasonable hour, minimizing pollution and gas costs. Many have turned to Toyota Hybrids to save on gas and registered their hybrid car for a precious carpool sticker which allows you to use the carpool lane but remain solo in the car. Unless you’re lucky to find a used car with a carpool sticker (they are registered to the car, not the owner), you won’t get one since they are all taken for quite some time now, with no news on re-issuing new ones.
So how do you get yourself into the carpool lane? An online carpooling networking service called RideSearch connects you with others that are looking to carpool. Registered users are able to locate people to organize a ride, pool payments and much more. Users are even able to list their smoking, driving and air conditioning preferences.
Mapping software provided by ArcWeb Services allows users to plug in their starting route by intersection (no need to list your home address - whew!), adding some level of security.
Currently they charge for subscriptions at $5.95 per month, $16.95 for 3 months and up to $29.95 for 6 months, which sounds a bit steep but if you’re a big commuter, those costs may be nothing in comparison to the savings associated with carpooling. You can even check your possible savings by using their gas calculator on the site. For now, it appears a free lifetime membership is given out to the first 500 sign-ups and the first 10 sign-ups of each zip code. Unfortunately, there is no indication of how many users are currently signed up to give me an idea if there are anyone in my area to join a carpool. Possibly if they added an exception for those that find no carpool partners within their area, like offering a 30-day money-back guarantee, there would be more users to test the system?
The service proves to be a great alternative, especially if you’re not too keen on using public transportation…given that routes, time schedules or maintenance issues can be lame depending on the city you’re living in. With gas prices approaching new highs and the economy as shaky as its been the past few weeks, saving some extra dough for your commute could be ideal for most Americans.