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What Is a Carpool Program?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 23, 2024
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A carpool program is used by multiple individuals who share one personal vehicle for transportation. This is also sometimes known as car-sharing, ride-sharing, or lift-sharing. Usually, a program such as this is used to get to a specific destination, like work or school, on a daily basis. Drivers can either take turns, or riders can help one driver pay for expenses. Carpooling offers several advantages to communities and commuters, so the practice is often encouraged and special lanes are dedicated for carpool use only.

If more than one person rides in one vehicle to reach a destination, this is often referred to as carpooling. In some areas, just two passengers constitute a carpool, but in others, a carpool may need to consist of at least three or four people. Just about any type of legal, registered vehicle can be used for a carpool program, including a car or van.

Carpool programs can be used to transport several commuters to one location. Usually, this is done most days of the week. Several people who live in the suburbs of a city, for instance, can create a carpool to get to work each day. Many parents have also created a carpool program to transport their children to school or social activities as well.

These programs can be set up a couple of ways. One commuter may be designated to drive each day. This driver can then calculate how much money is needed to drive everyone each week, based on things like fuel cost and mileage. The passengers can then share these expenses. Some carpoolers take turns driving in a carpool program, and no money is exchanged.

Carpooling is typically encouraged, especially in large cities. Special highway lanes, known as high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, or carpool lanes, have even been created for carpoolers. To use these lanes, drivers must have a certain number of human passengers to avoid being pulled over and fined. Some individuals have tried to use creative means to drive in the carpool lane, prompting law enforcement officials to specify what counts as a human passenger. Inflatable dolls, pets, fetuses, and ghosts, for instance, are not considered eligible human passengers.

A carpool program has several advantages. Carpooling lowers the cost of transportation for everyone as each participant saves money on fuel and parking. It is also considered green transportation, since it is more environmentally friendly to use fewer vehicles. Fewer cars on the road release less harmful vapors into the atmosphere.

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Discussion Comments

By wander — On Dec 12, 2011

My work has started offering incentives to employees who are willing to do a rideshare for long distance assignments. We work in sales, and previously our company used to just pay for gas for our cars, but now if we agree to share with another employee going to the same location, we get a cash bonus.

While our work is probably saving a lot of money doing things this way, we love it because we're making good money. I have been running a vanpool, so I can take more people with me and make more money. I think the whole project being better for the environment is just a nice bonus.

By popcorn — On Dec 11, 2011

@animegal - One of the easiest things you can do is see if your school has a carpool website, as a lot of post-secondary schools promote a cleaner environment through ride sharing. Just be aware that car sharing can get expensive you don't have a car to drive others to school with.

Usually members of carpools offer to drive on designated days of the week, that way the costs are split fairly. If you are just hitching a ride you'll end up paying part of the gas, and probably part of the parking fees too. The parking fees at campuses are notoriously expensive, so it may end up cheaper just taking the bus.

By animegal — On Dec 11, 2011

I am going to be going college in a city close by and I know it is pretty common for people to commute from my hometown to the campus. I am wondering what the best way to find a rideshare program in your area?

I have tried to use social networking to find someone to share a ride with and I haven't had much luck yet, as it seems that most people are pretty private.

I would like to find a safe ride where I can chip in for gas as it would save me a fortune on bus fare. Not to mention the fact that it would be much quicker just to drive there.

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