A smoothly functioning car pool is a fabulous thing that does all sorts of good stuff. Quite obviously, if you have four members you’re cutting your vehicle emissions by three quarters, and saving a comparable amount in fuel.  As well as green driving, it’s also a lot more sociable, as well as socially responsible. It’s not quite as easy to achieve this as it sounds, so before trying to get one going, it''s worth going through the formats, and figuring out exactly how it will work.

The simplest type of car pool is where a group of people use their vehicles on alternate days.  Either everyone drives to the driver of the day’s home, or the driver picks people up en route. The rota is simple to set up and no real costing or fare paying is required. The wear and tear of ferrying extra people is evenly spread. Whether your car pool is the commute to work or the school run, this is the best model if you can manage it.

Alternatives include a fare-paying system. This will work in situations where people are picked up on a route, and the person furthest away has to drive part of the way when other people are driving. Of course you may also want to defray your costs with people without their own cars who would rather ride than use public transport. It’s a simple matter of working out your fuel consumption and mileage and doing the math. You can factor in an amount per mile for wear and tear if you’re using your car more than others – or consider it money well spent on green driving.

Driving to the driver’s house is the ideal solution. Human unpredictability is a factor that can ruin the system. This way, if someone is late (and we all know people who have problems with punctuality) then the driver can just leave, without fear of stranding the tardy member, who will have to use their own car. Managing lateness and no-shows is vital to a successful car pool, and is another reason why all members need to sign up and commit themselves to an agreed plan.

The success of a car pool actually starts with the recruiting. You want people who are trustworthy (and that also means people with cars that aren’t going to break down on a regular basis). Ideally, you want people you get along with, since you could be spending several hours a week in their company. With luck, your fellow car pool passengers will all be doing it not just to save money on gas, but because they are interested in green driving and reducing their carbon footprint, so you’ll have something in common.

Finding the right people can be a challenge. If you can find one fellow car-pooler to start with, don’t delay. Cutting your costs and green driving is more important than getting a full group. Network; advertise in your local community and at your workplace. The rewards – a clean green conscience and lower gas bills – are well worth it.

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