Gas prices are up, up, up. It’s a big energy mess globally, but the impact on your wallet is the real disaster. To find relief from high gas prices, it pays to take a second look at how you’re getting around. Driving yourself is the default system for most Americans, but ride sharing can be a significant cost savings.
A car with basic fuel efficiency driven just twenty-five miles a day costs you nearly $100 per month in gas. Cut that number in half – or more – by sharing your commute, car pooling the kids on their way to school, or partnering up with a neighbor for grocery runs. The key is getting yourself in a formal or informal ride share program, where compatible travel goals equal cost savings for everyone. It may not be something you’ve considered before, but ride share programs are more common and easier to find than ever thanks to the Internet. Here are some places to start looking.
Check National Databases
Did you know there are national databases of ride share programs? You can sort them by state, region, or destination. Some are even sophisticated enough that you can use them as a way to get from an airport to the center of town by partnering with local travelers – nationally and internationally.
Many of the databases are simply that – a place for information about existing programs. These include eRideShare, PickupPal, and Rideshare-Directory. Others, such as Ridester, are feedback rated temporary ride arrangements that work to match people in need of rides with vehicles without a long-standing agreement. Check out multiple listings to get an idea of what’s out there and the possibilities for ride share arrangements.
Look For Local Programs
Another option is to research local programs through your state and county Department of Transportation (DOT) offices. Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and many other states have “official” rideshare programs that are hosted through DOT offices. Some of these programs may qualify you for commuter lane use or discounts to reward you for partnering with the program.
Cities and sections of cities may also host their own through local community groups, government offices, or forums on Craigslist. The Kansas City Metro Area is one example of an area with a formal program through a DOT, while Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo, Ohio, have listings through Craigslist. As with anything out on the broader web, exercise due diligence before hopping in just anybody’s car, but don’t be so paranoid that you miss out on valuable savings opportunities. It is definitely fine to meet with someone at a coffee shop or cafe to check them out before ride sharing with them!
Ask At Work
Your job may be another place to find a shared ride. Large corporations sometimes offer their own programs or have funds to offset costs of location-specific programs started by workers. Even small companies may offer benefits to ride share groups, such as preferential parking for cars with three or more workers.
Work is also a good place to find someone who shares your schedule. A neighbor at the same firm makes a solid car pool partner, since you both have to be at the same place at the same time. Even if you don’t know anyone offhand who might be interested, a sign-up sheet in a break room or common area may start a conversation that leads to a reliable ride share arrangement.
Put The Word Out Socially
For less formal ride share arrangements, don’t be shy about putting the word out in your social networks. Post on Facebook, send an email to friends, mention it at church, or start a conversation at your next dinner party. You may find a college student who needs a ride to a campus near your office three days a week or a stay-at-home mom who can drop you at your job when she takes her kids to school and pick you up after their piano lessons. The key is to be flexible and open to a variety of arrangements as they can all help you cut your gas costs.
Ride sharing within your social circle can also be a chance for you to deepen some of your connections in the community. You’ll be connecting with other cost-conscious or environmentally conscious souls, and you’ll have several minutes each day to have an uninterrupted conversation. It adds to the spirit of connectedness around you and may help you find other independent minds for other projects or ventures outside of ride sharing.
Even sharing a ride one day a week can make a difference in your budget and your mentality around being able to cope with rising fuel prices. The government and world energy leaders can do their own thing, but on the ground you can look to ride sharing and other shared-cost ideas to help you weather the storm and come out firmly ahead.