I’m reading about the pain of high gas prices, and the auto industry shrinking, and Americans actually driving a bit less. While I care about people’s pain, I’m not experiencing it, myself. My husband Thor commutes via TriMet (the public transit here in Portland, Oregon), and I carpool with five other people to get to work. Our gas expenses are only about $80/month, despite my commute being 100 miles round-trip.
It’s driving alone that’s expensive, not driving per se. Carpooling could work for many of the people currently in pain over gas prices if they got over a few misconceptions. Before I forget: I found my carpool through Carpool Match Northwest.
Misconception #1.) I’d be locked into carpooling every day. The reality is that it’s fluid and flexible. Nobody in my carpool goes in five days a week, for example. Every Thursday we circulate a group email on what days we’ll be in the pool the following week. There’s no pressure.
Misconception #2.) It’s too hard to organize and coordinate a carpool. Be lazy like me: I joined an existing carpool that had been doing its thing for seven years, with some turnover in members of course. It’s very smooth-functioning; the kinks got ironed out long ago.
Misconception #3.) I don’t live close enough to anybody. Neither do I or most people, in terms of door-to-door pick-up. Rather, we all drive a few miles to a central meeting point at an I-5 exit/onramp.
Despite my commute being the longest it’s ever been — 50 miles one way to Salem — it is also the most enjoyable commute I’ve ever had.
- we keep a running tally (stat sheet) of how many times each person has driven
- we take turns paying the monthly parking fee (this alone saves me over $600/year)
- no money ever changes hands directly in my carpool
- (if a member didn’t have a car, then of course they would need to pay for gas)
If transit’s not an option, you can’t bike or walk (the very best diet!), and you have to use a car to get to work I highly recommend carpooling. It saves not just dollars but the carbon emissions that accelerate global warming. Interesting how dollar savings and emissions savings march in lockstep when it comes to driving.