STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Carpool

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
Carpooling can be a cost-effective and community-oriented way of getting yourself to work, or getting your kids to school. Instead of driving alone in your car, you share a vehicle with one or more friends or co-workers. Benefits include: reducing your carbon footprint; saving on gas expense; having to drive less often (you can snooze on the way to work!); and getting to know people from your work and/or neighborhood. Spice up your ride: join a commuting community near you.

Tips & Tricks
Talk to neighbors and co-workers to find potential shared routes. This could be a great excuse to knock on your neighbors’ doors and get to know them.

Contact your local transit agency. Sometimes transit agencies help facilitate carpooling and ridesharing. They may have helpful resources, such as ride-boards or online forums.

Lay the ground rules. Once you have a group of people who want to carpool, establish a regular schedule, set a procedure for gas reimbursements if necessary, and discuss personal details like music, food, and drink.

Web & Print Resources
Overview of carpooling:
www.carpool.ca
www.commuterpage.com

Find carpools near you:
www.erideshare.com
www.carpoolworld.com

Find your local transit agency:
www.publictransportation.org

Rideshare and slugging examples:
www.slug-lines.com (Washington, D.C.)
rideshare.511.org (San Francisco)

Personal Story
This material originally appeared in the Washington Post article “Carpool Slug” by Karissa Lofton (October 10, 2004).

Someone at work asked me, "Are you a slug?" I didn't know what she was talking about, so I said no. The next day another co-worker gave me the low-down: Slugging is a kind of instant carpooling where commuters pick up total strangers from organized stops. The slug rides for free and the driver gets to use the quick-moving HOV lanes. The moniker "slug" actually comes from bus drivers. It's a term they use for nonpaying riders.

At first the concept sounded strange. It's not endorsed by local law enforcement, though generally nothing is done to discourage it. I pictured myself standing on a corner waiting for a random car, which didn't sound safe. But I asked around, and co-workers knew people who have been slugging for twenty years. The worst complaints were of smelly cars or fast drivers, but I appreciate a speedy, aggressive driver who gets me to work on time. Now I've shed $20 a week off my weekly metro fare—and shaved about twenty minutes off my commute.

To learn more, see www.washingtonpost.com

Fun Facts

In 2000, over 15 million Americans carpooled to work each day. New York City residents spend an average of about 1 full week of every year getting to work.

In 2003, about 96 million gallons of fuel were wasted due to congestion in the San Francisco/Oakland region alone. This is enough to drive across the country 640,000 times in the average car.