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Carpool FAQ

  1. What's the difference between carpooling, vanpooling, and ridesharing?
  2. Why should I carpool?
  3. Do I have to carpool everyday?
  4. If I don't have a car, can I still participate?
  5. How do I find other carpoolers?
  6. How do I know carpooling is right for me?
  7. I've just found some matches on the rideshare website. What should I do now?
  8. Is ridesharing safe?
  9. Are carpoolers supposed to take turns driving?
  10. What are some ways to organize picking up and dropping off people on carpool days?
  11. Are there any insurance or liability issues I need to be aware of?
  12. How much should a non-driver in a carpool pay?
  13. How much money can I save by carpooling?
  14. Is my information private?
  15. I've received an email from a potential carpool match that has asterisks (*) in it. What does that mean?
  16. What if I have an appointment or errands to run before, during, or after work?
  17. What is good carpool etiquette?
  18. How will carpooling benefit me?

A carpool is simply two or more people agreeing to make a trip sharing one vehicle, often a regular car. A vanpool is basically a carpool of lots of people, usually seven or more. Because of the size of the group, vans are the most frequently used vehicles for vanpooling. See Vanpool FAQ for more information on the vanpool program.) Ridesharing is another term for two or more people traveling together in one vehicle. It can be used interchangeably with carpooling and can also include vanpooling.

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When you carpool, everybody benefits. You save money and lessen the stress of driving everyday. You also play an important part in helping ease traffic congestion, cutting fuel consumption, and reducing air pollution and global warming. Ridesharing is also a great way to network professionally and share business ideas and opportunities. Driving with company can make trip a more pleasant and enjoyable experience.

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Not unless you want to. Carpooling can be set up to be as structured or as flexible as you and your fellow carpoolers want. Carpooling just once a week saves 20% of the pollutants you would normally be putting into the air. Every time you share a ride, you're making a difference.

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Sure! Just indicate you need to be a passenger when you register for ridematching.

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The easiest way is to create an account on the RTC TRIP MATCH website. The online matching service will search our files for other people with similar travel patterns to yours who are interested in ridesharing. Carpool members can include work or school associates you already know, or people who live near you and work at a nearby employer. It's your choice whether we search every record for matches for you or if we only search the records of people who are also employed where you work. Occasionally, the rideshare program ends up helping people meet their neighbors by matching people who work near each other and live close by each other, but have never met.

It's also a good idea to talk to your Human Resources department staff and see if they would like to help promote carpooling. Refer them to the website and the link to information for employers shown on the home page.

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You really won't know if it's a good long-term solution for you until you try it. To work well, it does require some coordination, cooperation and flexibility from those participating. Keep in mind that it can take a little time to create a good, functioning carpool. Be patient with it if you can. If you decide it's not for you, you are under no obligation to continue.

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You can send an instant-email to any of your matches through the rideshare website. We've composed a sample message you can use as is or modify as you like.

Once you've made the initial contact and the match has responded, we suggest you set up a time and place to meet in person to talk about possible carpool arrangements. Some good topics to address at this first meeting include:

  • How often would you like to carpool, at least initially
  • Who wants to drive, and how often
  • Meet up/pickup time and place for both ends of the trip
  • Food, beverage, smoking and perfume/cologne usage
  • How long drivers will wait for tardy passengers
  • Who is notified if someone is sick
  • Payment amount and frequency if not sharing the driving equally

If it looks like everyone wants to try out carpooling, you should:

  • Choose a date to start.
  • Exchange contact information.
  • Make sure drivers have valid licenses and auto insurance.
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Statistics show ridesharing is very safe; however, it is always important to keep personal safety in mind, particularly when trying something new. If you are considering ridesharing with people you do not know, we suggest meeting in a public place like a local coffee shop before starting to carpool. The meeting will serve two purposes. First, you'll have a chance to discuss your ideas on setting up a carpool without committing yourself to it. Second, you'll be able to assess your comfort level with the other person(s). Ask questions and trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about someone, don't carpool with that person.You can simply say it doesn't seem like a good match to you.

It's also a good idea to talk to your Human Resources department staff and see if they would like to help promote carpooling. Refer them to the website and the link to information for employers shown on the home page.

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They can, but it's not a requirement. In fact, a carpool may include people who never drive at all. It's a good idea to decide ahead of time on an amount passengers will pay to help out with the driving costs. See below for tips on determining a fair amount of compensation for the drivers.

If a carpool does switch drivers, this can be done on a daily basis, a weekly basis, or longer, depending on the carpoolers' preferences. This may also change over time as new people join the carpool.

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There are a number of different ways to manage the logistics. If carpool members live close to each other, the driver can simply come by each person's house to pick them up. If that's not feasible, then carpoolers can meet at one of the member's houses or a centrally located public place. Keep in mind that there are also some park-and-ride lots (see homepage download link) throughout the region that can serve as a meeting location.

On the other end of the trip, there can be multiple stops or one centrally located spot for dropping people off.

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Insurance policies vary, and it is a good idea to check your policy-primarily the exceptions/exclusions portions. General liability insurance covers passengers, and most policies would not exclude carpool members, but it is worth checking. Another good reason to call your agent is to see if you'll qualify for a carpooling discount.

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It will vary depending on the carpool. If participants rotate the driving equally, money doesn't have to change hands. If the driving isn't equal, passengers generally chip in to help cover the driver's expenses. Some guidelines to consider include how much the driver spends on gas and a reasonable vehicle wear and tear estimate. Below is a table provided by AAA to show some average operating costs per mile.

 

Operating Costs per Mile (in cents)

  Small Sedan Medium Sedan Large Sedan Average
Gas 10.82 13.04 15.13 13.00
Maintenance 4.76 5.06 5.37 5.06
Tires 0.69 1.00 1.22 0.97
Cost per Mile 16.3 19.1 21.7 19.0

Keep in mind that this table does not include parking fees. Depending on your carpool, it may be appropriate for a rider to help pay for some of these expenses, too.

Learn more about the true total costs of driving and calculate the cost for your specific vehicle by clicking on AAA's Cost of Driving.

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Savings will vary based on a number of factors including how often you carpool, the number of people in the carpool, the distance you travel, and the type of vehicle you drive. Use the link on the home page to the cost calculator to estimate both your personal savings and the air pollution reduction.

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Yes. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information.

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All emails sent via the RTC TRIP MATCH website pass through a profanity filter. Asterisks indicate words that have been removed by the filter. As with any email you receive, the decision on whether or not to reply to it is your individual decision. If you ever receive an email that you find particularly inappropriate or upsetting, please forward it to rtcsmarttrips@rtcwashoe.com.

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If you have an appointment or errands before or after work and need your personal car, don't plan to carpool that day. If your appointment is during work, then plan to drive the carpool that day so you'll have your car.

If you currently are in the habit of using your car to do errands, go to lunch or go to appointments during the work day, it's a good idea to ease yourself into carpooling. You might try doing it just once a week initially. Then, find ways to reduce your dependence on your car so that you can carpool more often: bring your lunch to work, bundle your errands, take care of some errands on line, etc.

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Every carpool is unique, but good etiquette is essential to keep it running smoothly.Good etiquette takes into account communication, courtesy, and the safety of everyone in the carpool.

Do:

  • Communicate with your fellow carpoolers. If you're running a few minutes late, call them and let them know, but don't let it become a habit. If you can't carpool on a particular day due to a schedule conflict, give your carpool partners ample notice so they can make other arrangements.
  • Drive safely at all times.
  • Keep your vehicle clean and in good condition.
  • Respect any rules the carpool has agreed upon, such as restrictions on smoking, eating, or drinking.

Don't

  • Make a habit of being late.
  • Ask your carpoolers to make extra stops along the way so you can take care of personal errands.
  • Bring up controversial topics such as religion or politics unless you know your carpoolers very well. While some people may enjoy discussing or even debating the issues, others may prefer a quieter commute.
  • Have lengthy cell phone conversations while you're in the carpool.
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There are many benefits to carpooling. If you are currently driving every day, you're going to save money on driving costs by carpooling. Your gas expenses will be less and whenever you are a passenger there will be less wear and tear on your vehicle because you'll be driving it less. That will mean lower maintenance costs for your vehicle and if you reduce your vehicle's mileage a lot, less depreciation of your vehicle's value. In many cases, the savings can be significant. You'll also be helping reduce traffic and to keep the air clean which will help reduce global warming.

Use the link on the home page to the cost calculator to estimate both your personal savings and the air pollution reduction.

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