Ridesharing

Ridesharing

Ridesharing Overview

Ridesharing, also known as carpooling, connects drivers and would-be riders so they can share all or part of their commute, cutting transportation costs for the participants while reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

Rationale

This is a cost-effective transportation option for all parties. The driver's expenses are shared and the rider avoids the cost of car use or ownership. Ridesharing is most commonly used for work commutes, where drivers and riders have the same daily destination.

Effort Required

Low to high effort is required. Ridesharing requires an individual or organization to set up, promote and manage the program. This can be done informally at a workplace or have a broader scope, such as when a state or local agency designs and promotes an online rideshare matching program.

Benefit

Ridesharing distributes the cost of automobile usage across multiple users. By decreasing the number of cars on the road, it helps improve air quality. Ridesharing also has the potential to build community.

Risks

Ridesharing has to be as reliable as using one's own car. The program needs to provide for transportation alternatives when the primary driver is sick or on vacation and for emergency rides during the day.

Action Agents

There are many different program models and organizational sponsors:

  • Public Agencies: Municipalities can develop and advertise online coordination tools. Some ridesharing programs use vans provided by a transit agency
  • Corporations: Some ridesharing programs are organized by corporations for their employees
  • Non-Profits: Some ridesharing programs are organized by Transportation Management Associations, non-profit organizations that coordinate transportation services and planning in a defined geography

Costs

Costs are variable as they depend on the program.

Reducing Pollution through Ridesharing

Automobiles contribute more to air quality problems than any other source in the United States. They are responsible for 27% of the nation's hydrocarbon emissions, 51% ofcarbon monoxide (CO) emissions, 20% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 18% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The reduction of driving is key to improving air quality, reducing pollution and combating global climate change. Ridesharing reduces the number of cars on the road, thus directly lessening the quantity of harmful gasses emitted into the atmosphere. The following is a table of annual vehicle emissions (Commuter Choice Program):

ANNUAL EMISSIONS FOR THE "AVERAGE"
PASSENGER CAR AND LIGHT TRUCK



Pollutant

Emission Factor (grams/mile)

Annual Emissions (lbs)*

Passenger Car



Hydrocarbons

2.9

77



Carbon Monoxide

22.0

582



Nitrogen Oxides

1.5

40



Carbon Dioxide

363.2

9,600



Light Truck**



Hydrocarbons

3.7

98



Carbon Monoxide

29.0

767



Nitrogen Oxides

1.9

50



Carbon Dioxide

544.8

14,400

* Emissions estimates presume average annual mileage of 12,000.

** Light trucks include pickups, vans, minivans and sports-utility vehicles.

Rationale

Ridesharing reduces the number of cars on the road, thus reducing harmful emissions that contribute to air and land pollution and climate change.

Effort Required

Little effort is required to implement a ridesharing program. Information for educational use could be posted on a public website or distributed by pamphlet.

Benefit

Increased understanding of the environmental benefits of ridesharing.

Action Agent

Creator of a public ridesharing program.

Cost

Any costs associated with publicizing the information.

Saving Money by Ridesharing

Cutting down on transportation costs is one of the great individual benefits ofridesharing. The driver's costs for fuel, vehicle maintenance and tolls are offset by the money contributed by the riders. Riders can reduce wear and tear on their own vehicles, and thus their maintenance costs, as well as the cost of purchasing fuel. Riders may be able to give up car ownership altogether, vastly increasing their savings.

The amount that an individual can save by ridesharing varies by situation. For a one-time, long-distance, inter-city ride, the rideshare participants save on fuel costs or the cost of airfare. For a daily commuting carpool, savings will vary with the length of the commute. All ridesharing savings will increase as the number of participants in a particular rideshare increases. Other factors influencing rideshare savings include the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, the price of gas and the cost of tolls and parking.

A useful tool for determining basic commuting costs and rideshare savings is a commuting cost calculator. These are online calculators where individuals can enter their commute information, and receive an instant estimate of their current commuting costs, including both fixed and variable costs, and the amount that they could save by ridesharing. For example, according to one calculator, an individual commuting with one other person on a 30 miles roundtrip, in a 25 mpg vehicle, with gas at $2.50/gal, would save between $1,140 (including one-half of variable costs) and $2,042 (including one-half of all costs) annually. Commuting cost calculators exist on a variety of ridesharing sites, two of which are listed below.

Rationale

The cost of driving is one of the main motivators for individuals to rideshare. Ridesharing reduces the number of cars on the road, thus reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Effort Required

Commuting cost calculators are simple programs to design. Creating an informative website about the costs of commuting and savings associated with ridesharing would require some basic research and knowledge of website design.

Benefit

Understanding the costs of commuting and the benefits of ridesharing is important for motivating the public to participate in rideshare programs.

Action Agents

Information Technolofy department to create a rideshare website.

Cost

The time and resources involved in research and website design.

Ridesharing Safety

Ridesharing programs need to provide users with safety information and resources to address concerns about sharing a car with a stranger.

Program Safety Measures:

  • Programs should set up a rating system so users can rate one another on the safety and punctuality of their rideshare experience.
  • Programs should have user preferences (e.g., women who would like to ride only with women).
  • Driver profiles should include vehicle color, make, model and license plate number.

Individual Safety Measures:

  • Participants should carefully review each other's profile before agreeing to rideshare.
  • Riders should verify that the driver's posted vehicle information matches the vehicle they are picked up in.
  • Participants should check one another's picture IDs before getting into the car.
  • Riders should email or text the driver's vehicle information and their ride time to a friend, and check in when the ride is complete. On long rides, participants should check in during travel as well.
  • Riders should meet their driver the first time in a public area, not get picked up from their homes. If possible, they should meet their driver before agreeing to ride with him or her.
  • Riders and drivers should exchange emergency contact numbers.
  • If for any reason a participant does not feel safe with his or her arranged rideshare partner(s), he or she should decline to travel together again.

Rationale

Ridesharing is an excellent way to reduce air pollution and build community networks. It is essential to the function of ridesharing that it be undertaken in a safe and comfortable way for all participants.

Effort Required

Program: Moderate - the creators of the rideshare program must implement a rating system and user profiles.Individual: Easy - the above measures require nothing more than a small investment of time providing feedback and taking common-sense precautions.

Benefit

Following the above measures will make ridesharing safer. A reputation for safety will likely increase the popularity of ridesharing, thus further reducing individual automobile use.

Action Agents

The creators of ridesharing programs and the individual program participants.

Cost

Program: Website design and maintenanceIndividual: None

Resources