Q: What are the carpooling benefits?
Despite worsening traffic congestion and environmental problems such as climate change and air pollution, there exists substantial resistance to transport policies that entail monetary or lifestyle sacrifices. Carpooling offers a potential answer for congestion and offers users the freedom of a personal vehicle without owning one. Carpooling allows individuals to access a fleet of vehicles that are placed in locations throughout a city.
Participants in the carpooling program access vehicles by reserving their use online or over the phone, and are charged a fee based on their use. Carpooling is usually a “pay-as-you-go” program that causes the user to appraise the need for paying for private transportation if public transportation is offered for that trip.
It is generally designed for short trips, so it is necessary for the users to plan their trips more efficiently and try to combine all required trips into one larger trip so that multiple fees can be avoided.
There are several important carpooling benefits:
- Carpooling provides individuals, who do not need a car all the time, with an opportunity to share with others in their area which distributes the expenses of owning a car over a larger group.
- Carpooling provides businesses with an chance to supplement existing fleets, or to offer their employees with transportation for business travel.
- Carpooling provides cities with an opportunity to reduce congestion and pollution and encourage mass transit use.
- Private vehicle ownership is expensive. An individual car owner must pay fees that include insurance, gas, maintenance, loan payments and parking. Meanwhile, carpooling offers the opportunity to reduce individual and social costs of owning a private vehicle.
- A carpooling program typically covers all vehicle costs. The users pay a nominal fee that is based on their actual vehicle use. User costs are so low because the cost of the vehicle is distributed over a large number of members.
- Carpooling is similar to mass transit in that it offers benefits such as reduced congestion as well as improved air quality, but unlike mass transit, it does not require many lifestyle changes.
- Carpooling is known to provide an average 44% reduction in vehicle miles traveled per person.
- One of the notable carpooling benefits is that each carpooling car replaces between 7 and 20 personal cars.
- Each member of a carpooling program saves 100 gallons of gas annually.
It is important to note, however, that carpooling has been around for a short amount of time and thus its true and long-term benefits are still uncertain. The concept itself is relatively novel and the collected data covers a short amount of time. Therefore, the true and long term impacts of carpooling are still to be learned.