Carpools, Ridesharing & Vanpools
Cars are for driving full!
Getting to work, taking a weekend getaway or even just running errands can be hard if you don't have your own car, and expensive if you do. Even the least expensive cars cost about $400 a month, while the average total cost of owning and using a car is at least $600 a month.
Sharing rides can help those with cars spend a lot less, while helping those without get around. Splitting costs with just one other person is like paying half price for your gas-and the more people you add, the more you save.
In fact, sharing rides, often called carpooling or ridesharing, can be one of the easiest ways to save money on transportation. It also means fewer cars on the road and less pollution. It might even improve your work life or social life.
Sharing rides is a do-it-yourself way to get around that doesn't depend on any new transportation service, and almost anyone can find ways to share rides more often. You can even enjoy the benefits of ridesharing by sharing a taxi, joining a van pool, or piling into an Ithaca Carshare car.
Who shares rides?
Friends and family often share rides, but many people are looking to share more rides more often in order to save money, help others get around, and/or reduce pollution. (See our page on Finding Rides and Riders.)
People who work or live near each other
Driving alone to work is "normal" in this county. However, if one or more people near where you live are headed in the same direction as you, carpooling to work one or more days each week can dramatically cut costs and even stress.
Sharing errands and going out
Some people have started calling, emailing or texting their friends when they have shopping or other errands to do. Instead of boring or stressful 'chores,' their errands turn into a fun time with friends. Getting a larger group of friends together and share rides to go out to eat, dance, or other fun events can making going out even more enjoyable, and more affordable.
By sharing rides for longer or weekend trips, you can enjoy the confort and convenience of using a car, without all the expense. You can even zip along using 'high occupancy vehicle' (HOV) lanes, reserved for cars with two or people on board.
It's not all-or-nothing!
You don't have to share rides all the time or carpool every day to try out the benefits of ridesharing. Ridesharing can be great for trips to the grocery store, helping get kids to school or around town, social events, or a weekend getaway to another city. Consider sharing a ride with one or more people you don't usually ride with, one time. Or try carpooling to work one time, or one day a week.
If you commute several miles a day, consider a VPool's Vanpool Service
Vanpooling is new ridesharing service that provides a passenger van for groups of 5-14 people who agree to ride together and pay by the month. See our page on Vanpooling, or call the vanpool company at 1-800-Van-Ride (800-8267-433) and ask for Jesse Kafka.
What if I need to get somewhere during my workday, or have to leave early or late?
Ithaca Carshare might work for you
If there's an Ithaca Carshare car near your workplace, joining up might give you just the extra transportation you might need during the day. To check out their car locations, membership levels and more, see the Ithaca Carshare website or Way2Go's Ithaca Carshare page.
Guaranteed rides or other support from your employer
A guaranteed ride program provides transportation for people use a vanpool, (or some other 'alternative' transportation,) but then have an unexpected need for a ride, such as going home early or late or needing to go to their child's school. Establish a Guaranteed Ride program that anyone can use is a priority for Tompkins County in 2010.
Some employers may offer a guaranteed ride program, such as Cornell's Emergency Ride Home program [see their pdf brochure]. Ask your employer, or suggest they visit our For Employers page or contact Way2Go to learn more on how to support efficient, less-expensive and 'greener' commuting among employees.
Other back up options
Other options for extra trips during worktime or for leaving early or late include the bus, an agreement with a friend or co-worker, or using some of the money you're saving by vanpooling for a taxi if needed.
If you're using a vanpool, you may be able to use it for extra trips
In addition to the commute, vanpool vans are able to be employed for limited personal use by approved drivers. See our page on Vanpooling.
Sharing costs and other rideshare arrangements
People make many different rideshare arrangements that work. It is up to the people sharing rides to decide how to split costs, when and where to pick up and drop off, whether to play music, talk or have quiet, and any other aspect of their rideshare. However, here are a few pointers:
In sharing costs, some riders user the IRS travel reinbursement rate of 55 cents per mile and share other expenses such as tolls or parking. Some estimate total costs or agree on some amount that riders pay ahead of time. Others simply rotate drivers or trade rides.
People sharing a ride sometimes discuss whether to have music or not, or even conversation... or some groups let the driver decide. You might also want to be clear about how long people will wait if someone is late, and if any extra stops will be added.
Any arrangement is fine, as long as everyone agrees. We recommend going over clear agreements ahead of time about sharing costs, picking up and dropping off, extra stops, and car culture. (i.e. music) ahead of time.
Is it safe?
Every form of transportation invoves some risks. With ridesharing, remember that you are in control. You can make decisions that are right for you. You can choose to share rides only with friends, family or people from other networks you trust, such as coworkers or members of the same interest group.
You can ask for and check references from potential rideshare partners, and check that the information they give you -- such as where they work and how long they've worked there -- is true. Sharing rides among families can be a great way to help kids get where they need to go. When letting others give rides to your kids, meet them in person first, check references, and even check their vehicle to make sure you're comfortable with the arrangement.
Some rideshare matching websites offer certain screening or feedback mechanisms that can be useful. However, it's always up to the individual to use your own judgement and common sense!