In areas where there are no ride-sharing programs or where the programs don’t meet your needs, you will need to take the reins and start your own ride-sharing system. You can partner with a neighbor for certain outings or you can set up a carpool system through your job – or both. The idea behind ride sharing is simply to cut everyone’s costs and maximize efficiency in transport, so there are many different ways to put a ride-share program together.
However, regardless of the destination, there are certain issues you will need to deal with head on when it comes to ride sharing. These include fuel costs, schedules, driving duties, back-up plans, and personal behavior guidelines. You can feel your way through these things on your own, or you can follow my tips for a starting and maintaining a successful ride share program.
Talk Money Upfront
The point of ride sharing is to save everyone money. Period. You’re not running a charity.
Before you get going with your ride share, calculate the costs and how you plan to cover them. Will everyone chip in cash weekly to cover gas? Are you paying on a per-mile shared basis or on an even split plan? Who pays for tolls, meters, or parking passes? What’s the cash arrangement for one-way riders, such as neighbor’s children dropped off but not picked up? How much is really being saved by each rider?
Knowing the numbers helps keep everything fair and ensures a win-win situation for all parties. You can eliminate uncomfortable conversations about money later by dealing with them before the first dollar is spent. Also, discussing the costs and savings of the ride share will help each member give it the value it deserves in their life and plans. No one really likes getting up ten minutes earlier to share a ride to work, but for $55 a week in gas and tolls, they’ll know why they do it.
Sort Out Schedules Before You Start
Ride share successes depend on compatible routes and compatible schedules.
Ideal situations are children with the same school schedule or workers headed for same factory shift. However, you may find that interested riders can adapt their schedules. Maybe it’s no big deal to stay an hour later at the office on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to share a ride both ways with a college student. Perhaps your elderly neighbor wants a ride into town twice a week to shop and see friends for afternoon coffee. Or you can share four days a week and not share on Friday when you do something else after work.
For the cost savings, even finding just one day a week when a ride can be shared may be worth it. Talk with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to find out what days and times work well for sharing and ensure that everyone can hold to a shared schedule once it is set up.
Designate Your Driver
Someone has to drive, but it doesn’t have to be the same person everyday.
As you begin, discuss driving duties. Will you switch each day? Once a week? Never? You may be the organizer, but it might not be the most cost effective option for the group for you to be the driver. Other members may not want to drive, or they may not have a reliable car. If they don’t drive, will they contribute more financially, or are you happy to be the designated driver all the time?
Have a Plan B
Every ride-sharing program needs a firm Plan B to avoid emergency situations for everyone.
Before you begin, get everyone’s contact information at home and at work. Determine a plan of action if the driver’s car doesn’t start – how will the group be notified, and when will it happen so that everyone can still be to work or school on time? In the event of car repairs or accidents, who will take over the car pool duties? What happens if someone needs to stay later at work or leave in the middle of the day for a sick child?
Answering these questions in advance can help alleviate concerns people may have about giving up their own means of transportation. For some, to be late means losing a job, and unpredictable transportation is a financial kiss of death. Others worry about not being able to stay late for overtime or run to their child’s school if their kids are sick. This doesn’t mean they can’t ride share with you – it simply means that a Plan B needs to ensure everyone knows what to do in time to cover themselves or make alternative transportation arrangements.
Mind Your Car Pool Manners
Last but not least, lay down the rules for in car behavior to keep everyone sane and happy.
Car pool manners are simple, but they go beyond just showing up on time and being polite to the driver. Smoking and eating in the car are only with group permission and consent of the car’s owner. Certain topics (bosses, politics, sex) may be banned for mutual sanity. Radio stations may need to be voted on or a rotating “who picks the music” system put in place. Cologne may be banned outright. With these rules you can ensure those who ride together stay friendly – or at least civil enough to continue cutting costs by splitting a ride. It may not be a perfect system, but by keeping everyone well mannered, you can have a successful and financially beneficial ride-sharing program of your own.
©2012 Off the Grid News