Tuesday Jun 24 2008
Hittin' the Road: Sharing the ride, and the cost
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring Editor
It was convenient at first, but now, it’s a necessity. When my wife changed jobs earlier this year and found her new place of employment in Rocklin, we decided it would be neat if we carpooled. We live in Sacramento and I commute to Auburn every day. So that first morning in January of this year we got up at the same time, made breakfast together and headed out the door with each other — a first for us. It started out as a nice way to share the commute — never mind the fact we were saving gas and our vehicles. Then gas prices began to soar — it wasn’t just convenient, it was imperative. We’re a two-car family, like many people in our region, and fueling two vehicles — albeit compacts — once a week can become costly. My Volkswagen New Beetle costs around $50 to fill, and the Ford Focus my wife drives costs about the same. So using just one car a week, not such a bad idea. We rotate vehicles each week, leaving one at home to rest, and more importantly, not cost us at the pump. With this schedule we’ve seen some very positive benefits to this whole ride-sharing concept. With gas prices at their current marks, we’ve estimated that we’re saving about $200 a month in fuel, which isn’t really anything to sneeze at, especially when prices for everything else are climbing. Even though I don’t need it, that’s one more pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Along with saving upward of $200 a month in fuel, we’re also saving our vehicles as well. We’ve estimated that our commute is about 60 miles round trip each day — that’s 300 a week. So, we’ve cut that in half, thus saving 600 miles a month on each vehicle, and over a year reducing some 7,200 miles of wear-and-tear on each of the ol’ rides. And of course, we’re also saving the environment by not putting as much carbon dioxide into the air from driving both of our cars each day. Another happy side effect? I get into work earlier because I have to get my wife to work a few minutes early. Earlier in, earlier out. We’re not the only ones who have gotten on the carpooling kick either. According to eRideShare.com, the leading carpooling and ridesharing Web site according to Yahoo and Google, the numbers in interested ride sharers has jump dramatically. “Our (Internet) traffic is approximately up threefold since February,” said Steve Schoeffler, executive director of eRideShare.com. “Gas prices are certainly the major factor in the tripling of Web site traffic. … There are an awful lot of people experiencing an awful lot of pain because of gas prices.” The Web site works like this: You register as a user, and after that you can look through the 16,662 current commuter carpool listings to see if there’s someone looking to form a carpool for work somewhere in the region. Currently there are 11 carpools going from the Auburn region to the Sacramento Valley. Along with where they’re going, there’s a list of what time the carpool leaves its origination city and its destination city. As a registered user, you can contact the originator of the carpool to see if you can get on board. “We definitely advise consumers that one way to avoid the high price of gas is to explore other modes of transportation, and carpooling is definitely a way of saving money,” said Cynthia Harris, spokesperson for AAA of Northern California. “It has a positive impact on the environment, your money and your lifestyle.” One just has to look at the Park-and-Ride lots and other rapid transit parking centers to see that people are using more alternate modes of transportation to get from point A to point B, and carpooling is definitely one of those. As gas prices continue to climb, the wife and I will continue to share a ride, and besides, talking to her beats listening to the radio any day. The Journal’s Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at email@example.com or post a comment online at auburnjournal.com.