Monday, April 7, 2008

Going My Way?

Well, it’s official. Average prices of regular self-serve hit an all-time high today (even adjusted for inflation). Like you, I cringe every time I pull up to the pump. But I’ve found a simple way to help soften the blow of high gas prices: Carpooling.

Now, before you start to dwell on images of smelly cars filled with less-than-stellar co-workers, dull-as-driftwood conversation, and total inflexibility, let me head you off at the pass. Though movies and TV might have you think otherwise, carpooling is not really that bad. Really! Especially if you’re putting on serious mileage each week.

I’ll use myself as an example: I drive a VW Jetta and travel about 120 miles roundtrip daily to work and back. Translated into gallons, that’s about two to two-and-a-half fill-ups per week. At $3.15 a gallon, that’s about $70-80/week in gas. Now granted, everyone is not traveling as far for their work, but the concept still applies.

Enter carpooling. I’ve been tag-teaming the drive for about a year with a colleague from Portsmouth. We meet at the Park & Ride on Fish Road and truck on up from there, switching off who drives each week. Sure, there have been instances when we’ve had to compromise on leave times, or just up and leave in the middle of the day because of something unforeseen, but for the most part, it’s been smooth sailing.

The benefits are obvious: More cash in your pocket, less wear and tear on your car, less traffic on the road (can you imagine how many fewer cars there would be if even 25 percent of commuters found a carpool partner!), less greenhouse gas emissions, less demand for gas (which could hypothetically lead to lower prices at current supply levels), and so on… you get the point. And through casual observation, I think more people are getting on the carpooling bandwagon – the Park & Ride seems to have more and more cars in it each month.

Here are a few carpooling resources if you’re interested. I haven’t used any so I can’t vouch for them.

RIPTA Carpools

Anybody have a carpooling story they’d like to share? Or other ways you're beating the pump wars?


Anonymous said...

I'm more aware of my errands for the week. Rather than take, say, three trips on a given week, I look at what I have to do and double up on errands to decrease the number of trips per week. For example, I used to do my groceries and my laundry on separate days. Now I do my laundry next door to Shaw's while I do my grocery shopping and kill two birds with one stone while completing two errands in one shot. If I know I'm heading toward Little Compton later in the week (live in N.Tiverton) I wait to go to the P.O. because I can stop there on my way rather than making two trips. Just being more aware and planning ahead can shave off major dollar amounts in the long run, plus it's less wear and tear on your car.

Vince said...

I carpool with my brother now and again - he works right across the street from me in Cambridge. The ride in the HOV lane is much smoother sailing. In the summer, I ride my motorcycle in - permitted in the HOV lane and better gas mileage. Finally, I've been lucky enough to get to work from home much more often now. "Telecommuting" really saves on gas mileage and puts more time in my hands!


Vince & Anonymous,

You both brought up some great points. I was just talking to a woman at work yesterday who was lamenting about the $50+ fill-up for her minivan and the fact that she has to be strategic in her errands.

And e-working is fantastic. Our company started implementing formal e-working plans last year. We actually calculated that in our division alone, the couple of dozen e-workers we had offset about 1,100 pounds of CO2 last year alone. Not bad.

I'm still stuck on the though of how much LESS traffic we'd have on the roads if more people carpooled. The thought is magnified right around the 24/93 split and 93/3 split each day!

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