When you follow the same commute almost every single day, it’s hard not to notice the costs of your ride. Even when users of affordable public transportation are taken into account, commuters in the United States spend as much as $5,000 every year on average getting to and from work. To alleviate the cost, many employees and students are turning to carpools for an answer.
Before rideshare apps and peer-to-peer car rentals were all the craze, carpools were the natural answer for anyone looking to reduce their expenses without resorting to time-consuming public transit. All you needed to do was find someone to ride with and your savings and carpool lane access were immediately unlocked. But in our new technology-first world, how do we even find someone to carpool with in the first place?
Keep reading to find the solutions you can use to find your carpool partners.
Carpooling vs. rideshare
Of all the transportation solutions available in the world today, carpooling is one of the simplest. When you have at least one other person sharing a ride with you, you already have a carpool. Most commonly, it’s a highly informal arrangement in which people decide whose car to take, how often, and how much the driver should be reimbursed.
So how exactly does this differ from rideshare, and what are the pros and cons?
At the heart of modern rideshare is an automated match between a driver and a rider based on their proximity. While services like UberPool, Lyft Shared Saver, and Via rideshare have taken inspiration from traditional carpools, bringing strangers together on a ride headed in one direction, a rideshare service will always have that driver element.
The benefit of rideshare is the convenience. You’re guaranteed to have a ride at any desired time frame and you won’t have to change your commuting plans just because someone calls a sick day. However, the cost of having a driver adds on service fees, surge pricing, and other stacked costs that make it far costlier than a carpool. Plus, with Uber and Lyft driving around to wait for requests all day, it’s not exactly as environmentally friendly either.
Carpools can also give you the benefit of sharing a ride with familiar, trusted faces each and every day. Rather than riding in an uncomfortable silence, you could be chatting with a coworker or a close friend.
3 Best Carpool Solutions
One of the biggest challenges of carpooling is finding people to commit with. Just because someone is headed in the same direction doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the same schedule. Even when they do, poor planning and communication can cause the carpool to fizzle out quickly.
Thanks to modern technology, traditional carpools have gotten a makeover. Whereas they once depended on highly unorganized texts, calls, and verbal agreements, many new solutions are making shared costs and carpool scheduling easier to manage than ever.
Here are three of the best carpool solutions that you can start using today:
1. Waze Carpool
While Waze is best known as one of the best navigation apps today, the company — now owned by Google — actually launched a ride-matching service for carpoolers in late 2018.
Waze Carpool connects riders and drivers by taking a note from rideshare technologies. To use the service, car owners who would prefer to get reimbursed for their route can create their driver profiles, setting their vehicle information and two-way route, through the normal Waze app. Riders can use the Waze Carpool app to request to join carpools that match their route.
Currently, Waze charges riders based on the standard mileage rate, limits drivers to two routes per day, and completely waives its service fee. This means the service is purely dedicated to helping you find fellow carpoolers looking for an affordable way to complete their commute.
Available in the United States, Brazil, Israel, and Mexico, Waze Carpool is the most widely available carpool solution on our list.
If you want to add an additional layer of safety when choosing your carpool, Scoop is a great service that does so while offering the same convenient ride-matching as Waze Carpool. The company runs a motor vehicle report on drivers to ensure they don’t have any major violations. While carpool riders aren’t vetted, drivers can remove any rider at any time ahead of the trip.
Scoop also emphasizes its matching service for neighbors and coworkers, helping you find trusted people within your community. Some companies, including LinkedIn and Samsung, actually partner directly with Scoop to create a secure, tight-knit network of commuters.
Because Scoop does take a small fee from drivers’ reimbursement, carpools are a touch more expensive on this platform than on Waze Carpool. However, the average ride can still cost as little as $2 and rarely ever exceeds $10, so your final cost will be around half the price of an Uber. Drivers can expect to be reimbursed around $2 to $9 per passenger.
While Scoop doesn’t have a list of cities it’s available in, since anyone can use it at any time, but it’s most prevalent in major U.S. cities.
While Waze Carpool and Scoop are available for just about anyone to join, Zimride is unique in the fact that it’s a fully private carpool-matching service. In order to join, your workplace or university must set up its own private network and invite you to join. You’re required to use your professional or student email to start finding carpools on this service, and you have the option to connect with your social media accounts, making the safety of Zimride top-notch.
Zimride is a little less convenient because you can’t manage your carpools through a mobile app. Plus, you have to manually post a request for a ride or a request for riders. Still, it’s a great opportunity to create an ongoing carpool with people who are headed to the exact same location, with no stops in between.
Drivers can also benefit from Zimride because they can set their own prices. You can be as generous as you want to make new friends, or you can increase prices to make up for local gas prices, insurance rates, and car maintenance.
Zimride is currently available for employees of companies like Verizon and Gap Inc., as well as students of many U.S. colleges, including all University of California campuses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Carpools have always been an affordable, sustainable solution, and with its modern refresh, it may soon become a leading commuting option once again. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you learn about carpooling:
1. How does carpooling differ from vanpooling?
Vanpooling is a ride-matching solution that may be provided by your local department of transportation, company, or school. It functions very similarly to our carpool solutions listed above, but with two key differences.
First, a vanpool always uses a high-occupancy vehicle that’s provided by the organization in charge of the vanpool program and operated by a designated driver. Second, vanpools typically require a minimum amount of riders, instead of allowing you to have as little as one other carpool member.
2. Do these platforms allow me to see where my driver is at in real-time?
Currently, they do not. The primary functions of these platforms are to match you with people on your route and schedule, and to help you get paid. Because of this, these carpool solutions are fairly informal and drivers are not independent contractors who need to keep their apps open at all times. However, you should be able to communicate with your drivers and ask any questions you have.
3. Am I required to ride every workday if I join a carpool through the platforms above?
No. These carpool services are designed with flexibility in mind, so you can choose to only ride on certain days. Or, if you have a ride home you can depend on, you can choose to save money by requesting only your ride to work.
Find Your Carpool Partner
While the carpool trend seemed to slowly be fading away, modern technology is bringing it back by making it more efficient than ever. You can now easily go beyond your personal network to find a ride or to find riders who can help you make your commute affordable, as well as more enjoyable. With the help of this article, we hope you find your perfect carpool group.
If you and your neighbors have your own rides to work covered, but need a solution to get your kids to school, you may be seeking out an “Uber for kids” service. Learn how Zum can help you find trusted drivers to help your kids, along with your neighbors’ kids, get a safe carpool to their destinations.