Car pooling

Article outline

Definition of car pooling

Car pooling involves the sharing of a car among several people who travel to and from the same places. Unlike hitchhiking, the transport costs are shared out among all those present. Car pooling may be done occasionally (during a trip, a music festival, etc.) or on a regular basis, such as car pooling between colleagues.

Car pooling

What's the use of car pooling?

There are many advantages of car pooling.

-Economic: Thanks to car pooling, the cost of a journey is divided by as many times as there are people in the car.

-Convivial: Car pooling allows people who normally travel alone to chat with friends or new acquaintances during the journey, spend a few pleasant moments and engage in a lively and enriching discussion.

-Solidarity: In France, even though the public transportation system is good, it is still not good enough in some specific cases - certain areas are not as well served as others and strikes are always a possibility. You can demonstrate your solidarity towards people who don't own a car through car pooling.

-Safety: Short of being utterly reckless, a driver will always be more careful when he/she feels responsible for the lives of those being driven. And if he/she is ever tired, another person may take over.

-Comfort: Gone are the days of feeling tired behind the steering wheel! If several of you own a license, you can take turns to alternate between driving and resting. Also, unlike taking the train, car pooling allows those who don't have a license to get from point A to B directly and transport their luggage without feeling tired.

-Social: Car pooling helps to reduce traffic jams and pollution from vehicles (noise etc.) since 5 people in one car instead of 5 cars with 1 person each = 4 fewer cars on the roads.

-Environmental: Although having several people travel in the same car pollutes slightly more (because the car is slightly heavier) than a single person driving alone, the amount of pollution is divided by the number of people car pooling. Traveling in threes = 3 times less pollution than traveling alone in a car.

How to car pool

Car pooling is relatively well established in Germany. Yet, there is still room for improvement, especially when you consider that the cost of maintaining a vehicle averages between $7000 and $10 000 a year in Europe (amortization of the car, insurances, fuel, repairs, tolls...). Even if it could be cheaper in USA, when fuel is less expensive than in Europe and where there are no tolls, a car remains expensive.

Then, car pooling is very simple. Typically, only 3 things are required:

-A driver's license
-A car
-People to car pool with.

Let's just focus on the third point: how do you find people who do the same journeys as you?

There are several possible ways of going about this:

-Ask around among friends and acquaintances if anyone is interested in doing a particular journey.
-Plan journeys well in advance in order to group several friends or members of the same family in one car on special occasions that have been organized a longtime beforehand.
-Send an email on your company's intranet to find out if any colleagues live close to your home. It's all the more worthwhile considering that you will save on car expenses several times a week, even over short distances, while getting the chance to chat with a colleague with whom you might even strike up a friendship.
-You can visit internet websites that specialize in car pooling, where you will find various car

Practicalities of car pooling

The car pooler and "car poolees" should observe a certain number of common sense rules in order for car pooling to be a success.

Prior to departure, the car pooler should clearly indicate the day, time and place of departure, the types of roads that he/she will be taking (freeway, trunk roads, etc.), all stops and detours that may be made in order to drop off "car poolees", estimated journey time, etc.

He/She should also specify the color and make of the car as well as practical information like whether smoking in the car is allowed, the number of bags permitted per person, etc. Finally, he/she should clearly state the price per passenger or, failing which, stipulate that it will cost n dollars divided by the number of people present.

Last of all, politeness between car pooler and "car poolees" is a must. "Car poolees" must respect the rules established beforehand by the car pooler and try to inform the latter of his/her interest in the offer at least several days in advance. All parties must inform one another of any lateness or change in program. Everyone must be punctual and have good hygiene: clean car, clean clothes, etc.

The cost of car pooling

There are two types of car poolers:

-1) Those who would have driven their car anyway.

Such people, who take their car whether there are any "car poolees" or not, may ask for a ridiculously low price since "it will still be that much saved". Thus, someone who travels between Frankfurt and Munich every week will always stand to gain, even if he/she asks for only $7 per passenger.

-2) Those who only drive their car if it costs less than other means of transport.

If this is your case, there are two possible ways of calculating the transport costs.

a. Direct costs

Many people reckon that the cost of a journey = fuel price + toll charges, and so they divide this cost by the number of people present. You may calculate your car pooling price based on this method, but it implies that the driver is alone in assuming the entire cost of amortization of the car, maintenance and insurance fees etc.

b. The effective cost of a journey

This includes both direct and indirect costs, e.g. vehicle maintenance fees. I recommend that you calculate the cost of a journey using the cost calculator, which includes the costs of wear and tear, vehicle insurance, and so on. Thus, all costs, whether direct or indirect, will be included in the cost of a journey, and you won't lose out as the driver and owner of the car.

Here's an anecdote: when I first began carpooling, I estimated the cost for a journey between Dijon and Nancy (220 km) to be about 40 USD. Whereas if I take into account the indirect costs, the journey would in actual fact cost me 65 bucks. By considering only the price of fuel and toll charges, I would only be sharing a proportion of the total cost and paying for the 25 bucks worth of indirect costs associated with the journey alone.

c. What's good to know

No matter which calculation method you choose, the recommended price in Europe is between $0.06 and $0.15 per kilometer, and depends of your negotiation between you and you counterpart. Usually, people who own the car don't have to make profit with car-pooling.

Then, any prices higher than these must be justified, e.g. if you own a luxury car, etc. The price will be rounded up (for example, don't demand 1,20 USD but 1 buck).

Once you have determined the price, you may eventually have to justify it to your passengers: my car is a 20/30/40 mph car, toll charges amount to so much, driving causes wear and tear, maintenance costs are this much, etc. You must be transparent when it comes to car pooling because although you are entitled to share out the costs, you are not allowed to make a profit from your passengers, short of being a cab driver.

One last thing to know: in order to remain competitive, try to fix a maximum price that is lower than the basic rate of the other ways of transportation. For example, a journey between Munchen and Nurnberg (Germany) costs $71.40. But asking for $35.70 is more expensive than the special Deutsche bahn price of $26.60. Ask for $25 or $26 from a single "car poolee" instead of $35.70; or divide the price by the number of people if several "car poolees" are involved: 71.40/3 = $23.80 if there are two "car poolees" or 71.40/4 = $17.85 if there are three of them. Other than arriving right at the doorstop of their destination, "car poolees" are sure to make savings, just as the car pooler does compared to driving alone in his/her car.

Here's Car pooling - a solution of the future

Be-ecolo recommends the following website Traduction Ink

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