With the unprecedented cost of gas and the rising cost of everything due to inflation, many find that just driving to work is too expensive. It is hard to believe there are many who cannot afford to drive to work, but that is the reality.
Carpooling may be a great option if you regularly travel to work or for errands, others may be traveling at the same time to the same area. It is good for the environment to have fewer vehicles on the road. Carpooling is also a good way to reduce commuting expenses by sharing the cost of traveling with someone else. Sharing a ride is also a way to meet people and make new friends. However, there are things that should be done to make sure it is an enjoyable and economical option for all involved.
Determine the pickup locations and times in advance and be punctual.
Establish who is driving and when. If carpoolers are alternating who is driving, make a schedule at the onset of each month to avoid confusion and frustration.
How much and when? The cost and when payments are expected for riders who are contributing financially to the ride but not using their vehicle in rotation need to be clear and upfront. Is a passenger paying daily, weekly or monthly? Is payment expected in advance or after rides have been taken? What is the policy if someone missed a day due to illness? The method of payment should also be clear. Is e-transfer acceptable or is cash preferred? For those contributing financially, it is important to pay your driver on time.
What can you do in the car? Establish clear boundaries. Can riders eat, drink, smoke, talk on their phones or engage in conversation (some people like quiet time in the morning on the way to work)?
Who controls the radio? Not everyone has the same taste in music. Public radio might be a good compromise and it substitutes for conversation first thing in the morning when many are not keen on talking. Establish a late policy. How long should a driver wait for a passenger?
Establish an agreed upon amount of time and if someone is past that time, it is understood they are on their own.
Make a backup plan. Cars can break down, people can get sick. Plan for what happens if the driver is unable to complete the rides on any given day.
If you are the driver, drive safely. Observe the rules of the road and do not speed. Remember, you are not alone in your vehicle. Your passengers are trusting you to get to the destination safely.
What about safety?
Carpooling with someone you don’t know that you found on a public bulletin board can be a bit intimidating. However, there are steps you can take to reduce risk. Since a carpooling relationship is generally one that lasts for several weeks or months, unlike a one-off ride with a cab service, you will want to have an idea who you are spending all that time with in the vehicle. You can ask for references. Ask to speak to a couple of people who know the person you are going to carpool with. Are they trustworthy? A good driver? Punctual? Honest? Do they follow the rules? Drivers, you can do the same. You have a right to feel safe with whomever you have in your car.
Taking a picture of the car and license plate before you get in and maybe even the driver and sending it to a friend can give some peace of mind. Let that friend know where you are going and when you expect to be there and text them to confirm the ride went well. This will no longer be needed once you get to know your rideshare partners, but if you are nervous about ridesharing for the first time, it might help. Trust your gut! If someone makes you feel uneasy, do not get in the car with them or let them in your car.
Transportation is essential for people to access medical, work, and life needs. Urban/Rural Rides has been working hard using volunteers to help those with little or no access to transportation get where they need to go in Southeast New Brunswick. As the cost of owning and operating a vehicle rises, many are finding themselves forced to give up their cars creating an increased demand for transportation solutions. Carpooling is one way to help others get through these trying times. If you commute, maybe carpooling is a way for you to reduce expenses and help others at the same time.
Urban/Rural Rides – 962-3073, http://urbanruralrides.ca