Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is Carpooling Worth It?

Carpooling is something that I've heard about for years but it was never something that I seriously considered. I've talked about the possibility from time to time but I felt that it would too inconvenient. There's an expression that I've heard over the years that says: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I was tired of driving a total of 62 miles round trip each day to and from work. I was tired of filling my truck with gas that now exceeds $3.00 per gallon and is soon to reach $4.00 per gallon. It's not just the cost either. It bothers me that our country is so dependent upon other countries for oil. There's also the consideration of the effect that driving automobiles has on our environment. I finally decided to do something about it.

I started out by looking into a program called EasyStreet, which is a van pooling service for commuters. Unfortunately,they didn't have a van pool that would match up well with my driving route. I also found out that it is more expensive than I would have thought it to be. How about the bus? I would have to drive to Middletown to catch a bus by 5:45 am, which would get me to work in Bloomfield by 8am. That was too much of a stretch to work for me. Finally, I searched the Internet to see if there was any online carpooling programs and as it turns out there were several.

I found one service called Within two days of signing up, I was contacted by a potential carpool candidate. I had two main concerns. One was that our working hours weren't an exact match. There were two particular days during the week that the person I would be carpooling with worked at least an hour later than I did. The other concern was that there was a differential in the miles that each of us drove to work. How could I make this work? Well, the difference in mileage problem is fairly easy. If one person has to drive more miles than the other, you can balance it out by the amount of times that each person takes turns driving. The other problem of having to wait around until someone else gets out of work turned out not to be a problem at all. Here are some of the things that I have lined up to do during these waiting periods:
  • Walking-I've been meaning to spend more time walking as a form of exercise but I've been putting it off to do other things. This will give me a perfect opportunity to do some walking.
  • Library-There is a library along the route. I can spend hours in a library looking through books and magazines.
  • Eating-enough said there.
  • Stopping at Borders Book Store to check out the latest in Field Guides and birding magazines.
  • Food shopping-this would be a good time to get it done.
Oh yeah-if all that's not enough, I suppose I could force myself to do a little birding after work. It could be a bit of a hardship on me but I think I'll get over it.
So is carpooling worth the trouble? I can't give a definitive answer to that question yet but I have a chance to save $1,000+ dollars a year on gas and 6,000 miles a year on my truck (I also get to use the controversial HOV lane). That gives me enough incentive to want to find out.


Beth said...

Good analysis! I like that you figured out how to make it work for you. Keep us posted on how it works. I think it was on your blog that I learned about shade-grown coffee--which I now order and use exclusively. I feel good about saving the birds habitat and the coffee tastes better! So, keep passing on the environmental tips.

Anonymous said...

Glad you found a ride and was able to save some $$$ and lower overall emissions. As far as the birding goes, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it! Hope it all works out for you. This is from a guy who's morning commute is 100 yards or less...and of course I walk.

Unknown said...

Carpooling is a great thing, saves gas and money! We've had good and bad experiences with it, but overall it usually works out well.

Good birding to you and great post!

Kathie Brown said...

Birding and hours at Borders with books? That's sounds like an easy choice to me!

Cathy said...

I like your positive attitude. Good job, though I know the prospect of having to fill those hours of waiting with birding will be a bit of a nuisance. Ah, well.

(Do you have any concerns about the other guys driving skills?)

RuthieJ said...

Good luck to you Larry, on this carpooling adventure.
I loved riding the bus for years....interesting people and I could knit while someone else drove. Now my husband and I work at the same place and the same hours, so I still get to be the passenger.

Lana Gramlich said...

More power to you for investigating & trying out this option. Keep us posted on how it's working out!

steadyjohn said...

My commute is even shorter than pa-birder's; down one flight and there's the truck I drive awaiting me for another journey to new places i.e.New York, New Jersey, and New England. Not any birding to speak of along the way but plenty of chances for photography, shopping etc. I don't even own an automobile. But surprise, surprise the cost of diesel now exceeds regular gasoline by 70 cents/gal.

Unknown said...

Let us know how it turns out. I've thought about carpooling but my hours are so odd as to make it nearly impossible. Now I only commute one day a week anyway. Workable public transportation would sure be nice but around here unless you're going downtown it doesn't work.

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, this is perfect for you. I've tagged you for a 6 Word Memoir. Come to my Blog for instructions. Don't feel obligated to play but I really can't wait to see what you come up with!

Mary said...


I had many carpools for years! But, they were for my daughter's swimming and soccer practices - all on the same schedule. I loved being in a carpool but I was one of the few who were always PROMPT.

Many years ago, back in the late seventies/early eighties, I was invited to carpool to work with a lady I worked with - and she was a good friend. Perfect... until...

She drove us to work on a morning with the thickest fog I've ever seen. THAT FOG did not slow her down. She sped through it like she might be wearing night-vision goggles and my feet were firmly planted on the floor, my hand gripped the door handle and I had my eyes closed 50% of the time. After arriving at work, I wanted to kiss the asphalt parking lot.

So, carpooling is great for all the reasons you mentioned, but beware of the fearless drivers.


P.S. Our carpool lasted two weeks. But we remained good friends.

Anonymous said...

I've had great carpooling experiences but currently I don't live near anyone else who works where I do on my schedule. And we're out past the end of the bus route. But we all have ways we can change our habits to help the environment, and kudos to you for taking this step.

Larry said...

Beth-Thanks-so far so good with the carpooling. Shade grown coffee is supposed to be better quality than the non-shade grown type-if it is fresh.

Vern-I'd like to be in a position where I could walk to work but its not in the cards right now.-Yes somebody has to do the birding-it might as well be me I guess.

birdfreak-I finally have something to say about conservation!-you guys are on the conservation theme quite often.

Kathiebirds-I'm thinking whenm its raining.

Cathy-thanks- no concern about the driving skills.

ruthiej-To bad I couldn't take the bus.-They just don't have routes that cover my area well.

lana-Thanks-I will have an update on it eventually.

Steadyjohn-you are an interesting character John-You seem to lean toward the right in politics but you are for potecting the environment-Now I find out that you get around without a car-interesting-and good for you.

Sarala-Sort of the same problem around here with public transportation-I wish they had a better system because I would certainly use it.

Kathiebirds-I've already been tagged with that one but thanks-I appreciate it.

Mary-I could definitely see how there could be problem situations.-Its working out good for me thus far.

wren-thank you-I wish that I could say that the environment was my first concern but I'm doing it mainly to save money and to get a break from driving.-Helping the environment is a nice side benefit though!

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, I saw your memoir on Mary's Corner of the World. I really like it. It sounds like you. Did I miss your post?

Larry said...

Kathiebirds-No-I didn't really want to do that post-I just dropped it in her comments section and left it at that.

MojoMan said...

I truly hope your carpooling works out and that you can find a couple of more commuters to join you. The problem is not that we have to import too much oil. The problem is that we have become so dependent on oil at all. Creative thinking like yours is our only way out of this mess.

Larry said...

Mojoman-It's been working out well for a while now.-I'm a little limited in that I have a two-seater compact pick-up.Next vehicle will be a 4 passenger car with better gas mileage.-Mine gets about 26mpg but 35 would be better.