There’s a good chance that there are people from your neighbourhood and who work near you. If some of you shared a vehicle, you could help reduce congestion and pollution, and help keep the places you travel through more pleasant.

Lets Carpool website logoCarpooling has all of the usual benefits of travelling by car with a lot of added extras. 

Check out the Let’s Carpool website for lots more information and for ways to find people to carpool with and how carpooling works.

Why carpool?

Carpooling shares the costs of driving, the more people who travel together the cheaper it gets.  Let’s Carpool can tell you how much you’d save for your journey.

Sharing driving responsibilities in a carpool can help you to lower your daily stress levels. 

Carpooling can be more direct than taking the bus (depending on your route) and quicker than walking or biking. The more people carpool the lower congestion becomes and the less time you’ll spend in traffic.

Some companies have special car parking provision for carpoolers, this is usually in a prime location that minimises your walk from your car to your office.

Sharing your ride can be a fun and sociable way to start and end your working day. Most people have colleagues with whom they get on well; setting up a carpool with people you already like can feel like turning the chore of commuting into an enjoyable social activity.

Carpooling can also be a great opportunity to make new friends, or even to keep up with what’s going on in other parts of your organisation or other organisations.  

Getting started

The first step to successful carpooling is often to find people to carpool with. If you already know people who are keen, start by discussing it with them.

If you want to find potential car pool partners, join Let’s Carpool and let the website do the hard work of finding people for you to carpool with.

Making it work

Carpooling can work in a number of different ways. You can start with a group of people who are keen and try to work out a system that suits everyone, or you can start out with what would suit you and try to find people to join you. Either way, these are some tips we’ve gathered on how to make it work:

Driving
Work out who’s going to drive. You might take it in turns, or one person might drive all the time. Any combination is fine as long as it suits everyone and is sufficiently well communicated that it doesn’t get confusing. Don’t backseat drive during the journey.

Route
Try to ensure you have a fairly direct route without too many detours. Some people may walk, cycle, or even drive their own car to a pick-up point to ensure the pool car has a fairly direct route.

Meeting up
Work out where you will meet and be consistent. If your meeting point changes every day it can get confusing.

Costs
Work out any costs and how they will be paid. If everyone shares the driving, there may not be any need for anyone to pay other members of the carpool. But if one person drives all the time you will probably need to work out how to share the fuel costs. Working costs out in advance helps to avoid disagreements. Setting up automatic bank transfers, or having a specified date for payments, can avoid issues of people forgetting to pay.

Rules
It’s a good idea to set some ground rules for your car pool. Is it OK to smoke in the car? What about eating, or drinking or talking on a cell phone? Is it OK for someone to stop off at a shop on the way home? Do you prefer music, radio or chatting? How long will you wait for someone if they are late?

Contact details
Collect contact details. It’s important that all members of the carpool can contact the others just in case they are sick and stay home or have to stay at work late.

Timing
Make sure there’s a little extra time in your carpool schedule just in case someone is late or you get delayed by something beyond your control. Always try to be on time.

Comfort
If you are using your own car for carpooling, keep it clean and tidy. Drive according to the road rules and with the comfort of your passengers in mind.

Staying safe

Lots of people carpool without any safety issues, but you may want to consider some of the following tips, especially if you’re carpooling with people you don’t already know.

  • Meet potential carpool partners in a public place before carpooling with them. Maybe suggest having a coffee to fine tune the details before your first trip. That way if you don’t hit it off you can politely say the match isn’t right for you.
  • Make sure someone knows who you carpool with and how to contact them.
  • Consider how many people you would like to carpool with. Having three or more people in the car may feel safer than just two.
  • Think about whether you want to tell people where you live. If you don’t, start by meeting them somewhere nearby, like a bus stop, petrol station, or car park.
  • If you don’t want to walk home from a drop-off point in the dark, make arrangements in advance so that you don’t have to.
  • Check with your insurance company that you are ensured if you use your car for carpooling.

Coping with the unexpected

Most of the time, carpool arrangements work out very smoothly, but it is important to be prepared and have a plan just in case things go wrong.

As if you’re driving on your own, you might get up in the morning and discover your car won’t start, you might find that members of your carpool get sick, get called away, or that you suddenly need to make an emergency trip during the working day.

If you have a contingency plan, then unexpected events are less stressful and easier to manage.

Be prepared for:

  • the carpool driver to calls to say they can’t drive you to work
  • the carpool driver can’t drive you home from work
  • a family member has an emergency and you have to go and help them during the day
  • finding out during the day that you’re going to have to work late

If a problem arises before you leave home in the morning, you may be able to drive yourself to work and simply skip carpooling for that day.

You may also be able to catch a bus or make new arrangements with another carpooler or another colleague who lives near you.

If something goes wrong during the day and those options aren’t available to you, you might consider calling a taxi (getting the occasional taxi may still be cheaper than driving to work on your own every day).

Some employers support carpooling by allowing staff to borrow a company car or paying for them to use a taxi if they have an emergency. Check with your employer whether they have any provisions like this so that you’ll know what to do if an emergency does arise.

Having a contingency plan can bring peace of mind even if you never have to use it.