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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Ridesharing is the connection of privately-owned vehicle drivers to ride-needing passengers. Carpooling is a form of rideshare that occurs on a regular basis; subsets includes coworker carpooling and casual carpooling—also known as “slugging". Carpooling groups eliminate the need for individuals to drive independently or find public transportation.

Carpooling should not be confused with terms like "carsharing" or "car sharing" (AU, NZ, CA, TH, US) or "car clubs" (UK), which is a form of car rental where rented vehicles are privately-owned rather than owned by companies.

History[edit | edit source]

Ridesharing began during World War II as a rationing tactic to conserve rubber for the war effort.[1] In 1942, the U.S. government required ridesharing arrangements to the workplace called, "car clubs" or "car-sharing clubs," whenever alternative transportation was not available.[1] The U.S. Office of Civilian Defense, launched during WWII, asked neighborhood councils to encourage four workers to travel in one vehicle.[2] It also created a ridesharing program called the Car Sharing Club Exchange and Self-Dispatching System, which grouped travelers from a workplace bulletin board.[2]

After WWII, the use of carpooling rose in the late 1960s. A decade later, the 1973 oil crisis, caused by an Arab oil embargo imposed on several countries including the U.S., sparked further increase in carpooling.

Incentives have remained useful in encouraging carpooling: employer-sponsored commuter programs, vanpooling, HOV lanes, and park-and-ride facilities are prime examples.

Employer-sponsored programs[edit | edit source]

Many companies developed commuter ridematching programs to limit congestion and preserve office parking supply.[3] During the 1970s, ridematching programs were primarily used for energy conservation rather than managing parking logistics.. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) looked at successful employer ridematching programs and published the Carpool & Buspool Matching Guide, which looked at companies like Hallmark Cards, who collected data from employees, hand-matching neighborhood employees and distributing a personalized list to participants.[3] Jantzen, Inc. General Dynamics, NASA, McDonnell Doulas Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Burroughs Corporation, and more used similar methods which were later computerized.[3]

Slugging[edit | edit source]

Casual carpooling—also known as “slugging"—began in the 1970s. Today, commuters use slugging to travel in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes [2] to and from US metropolitan areas: Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia; the San Francisco Bay Area, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[4]

Benefits/Incentives[edit | edit source]

Carpooling can reduce road congestion causing widespread travel-time reductions and, if efficiently employed, reduce the global fuel consumption and the need for additional parking infrastructure. If only 1 additional person is added 1 in every 10 vehicles, 7.54 to 7.74 billion gallons of fuel could be saved per year in the U.S.[5] This decrease in automobile emissions would result in a decrease of 68.0 million tons of GHG emissions annually in the U.S..

On an individual level, carpooling participants experience cost savings due to shared travel costs of fuel, tolls, and parking; reduced travel time by way of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes; and reduced commuter stress.[2] They can also benefit from parking incentives including parking permits in areas of limited parking.[3]

Georgia's Commuter Rewards[edit | edit source]

In eligible counties in the state of Georgia, there are several reward programs that enters participants with a Georgia Commute Options account into drawings for cash prizes, gas cards, or direct cash awards. Individuals earn $5 a day up to $150 for switching from driving alone to a clean commute such as public transportation, biking, walking, carpooling, teleworking, etc. by enrolling in the Gimme Five program and logging clean commutes.[6] Once a commuter has reached the $150 limit for logging there clean commutes, they can continue tracking to enter a drawing for a monthly $25 gift card.[6] Carpools of 3 or more people can earn a $40 gas card each month for up to 12 months within a 3-year period.[6] There is also a vanpool referral program granting $50 to users who refer a driver who completes three consecutive months in a vanpool.[6]

Barriers and Problems[edit | edit source]

Despite the benefits and incentives of carpooling, there are barriers that deter its widespread adoption. Because ridesharing requires drivers and riders, ridematching must be based not only on pickup location to destination but also on individual schedules. Carpooling is best suited for commuters with similar, regular schedules, and lacks the flexibility of dynamic schedules.[2] This can discourage commuters from carpooling if they believe they cannot find a ride home in the event of a schedule-change.

Companies, communities, and even state programs have been made to encourage carpooling. However, carpooling lacks a widely-accepted platform with clear standards with which to create ride groups. These programs are often limited to more urban locations which may already have more transportation options than rural areas. Outside of the incentives added by programs like Gimme Five, there is also a lack of widespread incentives. HOV lanes are exclusive to major cities and often exploited by single occupancy vehicles due to the challenges of occupancy requirement enforcement.

The "first and last mile" is the distance from your destination from where a rider is dropped off.[7] This is a large deterrent for users of public transportation without a transit stop within a reasonable distance to their secondary method of travel. This problem can also carry over to carpooling where commuters must find a method to travel the remaining distance to and from the pick-up and drop-off locations. Carpools that directly pick-up and drop-off their commuters to and from their destination are more attainable. However, the time it takes for the carpool to travel the "first and last mile" for every commuter adds up. In this way, the "first and last mile" can also disincentivize drivers and riders if the incentive to carpool does not outweigh the cost of the added commute.

Case Studies[edit | edit source]

Charlottesville, Virginia[edit | edit source]

Rideshare programs and incentives are implemented in many ways across the world, and those cases illustrate the costs and benefits of adoption. Charlottesville, Virginia is one such case, with multiple organizations attempting to promote rideshare.

2017 University of Virginia Transportation Survey[edit | edit source]

The University of Virginia (UVA), located in Charlottesville, employs over 25,000 people from the greater Charlottesville area.[8] In a 2017 survey of 621 employees, UVA collected personal transportation data that reflected how and why their employees commuted.[8]

  • 82% of UVA employees primarily drive alone to work
    • 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually
    • 8000 filled parking spots
    • 20,000 car seats without passengers

Employees who drove single occupancy vehicles to work were asked why they haven't tried a rideshare instead. The survey stated that 51% haven't tried because of their work schedule and need for flexibility, and 27% were uncomfortable with the prospect.[8]

Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC)[edit | edit source]

Locally appointed commissions in the Charlottesville area such as the TJPDC support carpooling through partnerships with programs like RideShare. RideShare provides information, group matching, and support to Charlottesville area carpool/vanpool commuters. The program offers members a voucher for a taxi or rental car in case of an emergency through their "guaranteed ride home" initiative.[9]

Sara Pennington, RideShare Program Manager spoke about that system to the TJPDC: "That is a great comfort and always what we hear as the first deterrent that keeps folks from taking that alternative transportation.”[9] Pennington describes the how the lack of flexibility is a barrier to rideshare adoption, and how the vouchers assuage many member concerns.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Carpooling reduces road congestion, emissions, fossil fuel dependency, and parking infrastructure demand. Carpoolers can also benefit from reduced travel times, commuter stress, and reduced travel costs or reward programs that their community many provide. Direct subsidies and other incentives have also increased carpooling adoption.

The 2017 University of Virginia Transportation Survey data supports that claim that more people would prefer to carpool over driving personal vehicles. However, barriers such as safety, availability, and flexibility prevent them from trying. Carpooling options are limited and often complicated to set up. Widespread adoption requires significant incentives, accommodations, and availability. Guaranteed ride home options need to be available to address commuters hesitancy to carpool due to a dynamic work schedule. Federal or state policy could standardize the various programs across the country and lead to a widespread platform being used.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b Columbia Law Review (1942) Rationing of Consumer Goods. Columbia Law Review, 42(7), 1170–1181. https://doi.org/10.2307/1117570
  2. a b c d e Nelson D. Chan & Susan A. Shaheen (2012) Ridesharing in North America: Past, Present, and Future, Transport Reviews, 32:1, 93-112, DOI: 10.1080/01441647.2011.621557
  3. a b c d Pratsch, L. (1975) Carpool & Buspool Matching Guide, 4th edn (Washington, DC: FHWA, US Department of Transportation). http://libraryarchives.metro.net/dpgtl/usdot/1975-carpool-and-buspool-matching-guide-fourth-edition.pdf
  4. Kelly, Kalon L. (2007). Casual Carpooling-Enhanced. Journal of Public Transportation, 10 (4): 119-130. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5038/2375-0901.10.4.6
  5. Jacobson, S. H., & King, D. M. (2009). Fuel saving and ridesharing in the US: Motivations, limitations, and opportunities. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 14(1), 14-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2008.10.001
  6. a b c d Georgia Commute Options Commuter Rewards, https://ctycms.com/ga-atlanta/docs/dc-gco-cash-incentives_0523.pdf
  7. Mohiuddin, Hossain. (2021). Planning for the First and Last Mile: A Review of Practices at Selected Transit Agencies in the United States. Sustainability. 13. 2222. 10.3390/su13042222.
  8. a b c Guterbock, T. M., Ellis, J., Zaslow, S. (2017). 2017 University of Virginia Transportation Survey. Center of Survey Research, University of Virginia.https://parking.virginia.edu/system/files/Mode%20Split%20Survey%202017.pdf
  9. a b Tubbs, S. (2021). TJPDC board discusses RideShare, Zion Crossroads Plan, Route 29 Corridor study. Information Charlottesville. Retrieved from https://infocville.com/2021/03/10/tjpdc-board-discusses-rideshare-zion-crossroads-plan-route-29-corridor-study/