Carpooling is an effective way to cut down on the amount of traffic that occurs during the daily commute. It allows workers who live near each other and work at the same office or within the same area of the city to pool their resources so that commuting expenses can be saved. The obvious downside of carpooling is that there isn’t any alone time to decompress from a stressful day. In evaluating the pros and cons of carpooling, here are some of the other key points to consider.
The Pros of Carpooling
1. It helps to limit carbon emissions.
Fewer vehicles on the road mean that there is less exhaust being produced. Carbon emissions from vehicles are a major contributor to greenhouse gases that could be affecting environmental patterns. By have 2-3 co-workers in the same vehicle, you’re taking 2-3 vehicles off of the road every day.
2. It can make the commute faster.
Many urban centers offer a driving advantage to those who carpool. A separate lane is reserved for those with multiple people in the vehicle so that the logjam of traffic can sometimes be avoided. Severe financial penalties are imposed for those who attempt to violate the carpool lane as well so that the lane can stay clear. Although you may not want to arrive at work more quickly, carpooling provides this opportunity.
3. Fuel costs can be minimized.
When gasoline prices in the United States hovering around $3 per gallon in many areas, it can easily be $60 per week in gas costs just to make it to work. If three people are carpooling together, however, that fueling cost can be cut down to $20 per person. When vehicles are rotated weekly in a carpool group, this allows for maintenance costs to be managed rather effectively as well.
4. It provides a social outlet for people.
Many people who work together don’t realize that they live near each other. By starting a carpooling group, many new friendships can be formed so that there is a social outlet for people outside of work. Sometimes it can be nice to share complaints or frustrations about work outside of the professional environment and carpooling provides that opportunity in a safe environment. Many carpooling groups also form outside social groups that become close friendships.
The Cons of Carpooling
1. You can’t always leave work when you’re ready to leave work.
Carpooling requires everyone in the vehicle to be ready to leave at the same time. If you’ve got an early afternoon planned with the family and it’s your week to be in the carpool, then you might be forced to stay at work until everyone else is released from their duties. If someone is running late at work with a project, then everyone is forced to stay behind and wait.
2. There are no quiet moments.
There is always something going on during a commute when carpooling. Someone’s phone may ring or there may be side discussions going on that wouldn’t be happening if the commute was happening solo. Even in silence, there is the sound of others breathing that can be somewhat disturbing to some individuals. It’s nice to be social, but it’s also nice to be alone sometimes as well.
3. There may be costs or fees associated with carpooling.
In an effort to raise money, some urban centers are converting carpooling lanes into toll lanes or express lanes. This means to access the faster lane, there may be added charges to the commute to make it faster. Although these costs can be split amongst everyone, it is still an added cost that not every carpooling group is going to want to take on.
4. There are still environmental consequences that may occur.
Even though there are fewer vehicles on the road, there are still environmental consequences that may occur from the use of a vehicle for carpooling. Even electric vehicles may be powered by energy that was generated by fossil fuels. Although this key point may not be relevant for all, it does have a bearing on some discussions.
The pros and cons of carpooling show some definite advantages. It may not be the best solution for everyone, especially those who prefer to have some time on their own between their personal and professional responsibilities. If the negatives can be carefully managed, however, it could be the transportation solution for everyone.