Early autumn 2001 in Topeka, KS. I’m standing in the driveway. The first day of high school carpool. My best friend Dale lives a few miles down the road, his sister’s friend Cecilia is going to drive us and his sister Stephanie to and from school each day. My house, Dale/Stephanie’s house, and Topeka High were all on the same road. The Midwest, right? Cecilia always opts to double back down 10th to take I-70 instead of 10th all the way to school. “Less traffic, no lights, I can drive a lot faster,” she explains. Looking back, I think the difference was minuscule, it was a 15-minute drive total.
I don’t remember what type of car Cecilia drove, some sort of grey sedan. What I do remember is that Stephanie and Cecilia were COOL. Upper-class women who introduced Dale and I to new friends. It felt great to know someone that first day of school, especially going from a small middle school to a large high school.
I stopped carpooling when I was gifted my brother’s car and I learned how to drive, but looking back, we had a good carpool setup. If I could do it again, I would have kept taking our 10th street carpool. Riding with other people is just more fun. Riding in that carpool introduced me to bands I have never heard of: Rancid, Operation Ivy, Good Charlotte, and more. Steph and Cecilia really opened a musical door for me. We would listen to Good Charlotte’s Waldorf Worldwide EVERYDAY after school. They even had little hand motions and shimmy dance moves to the lyrics. Whenever I hear that song, it brings me back to leaving the Topeka High parking lot on a warm autumn day.
As auto technology increases, so does the number of cars on the road. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the number of licensed drivers in the US has been increasing since 2013. Here’s my pitch for carpooling to work.
It saves time. If more people carpool, there will be fewer cars on the road. Fewer cars means less traffic, and less headaches during your commute. You can also start using the express lane!
It saves money. Carpooling is all about sharing the total cost of commuting. You share the cost of gas, tolls, and other driving expensive. According to RideShare.org, “The total cost of auto ownership and use can range from approximately $0.50 per mile to over $1.00 per mile. For a person with a longer than average commute (e.g., more than 12 miles) and carpooling 250 days a year, the potential savings in a two-person carpool could exceed $1,500!”
It helps the environment. Less emissions from fewer cars makes a difference. According to the EcoGuide.org, “By carpooling just twice a week, 1,600 pounds of greenhouse can be kept from the air each year.”
It’s easier than ever. Tech such as Waze Carpool calculates costs, schedules, and connects you with drivers/riders. There are many other sites to help you find fellow carpoolers. Many companies and schools have carpool resources, just ask! You can also get the word out to your friends and neighbors and set one up yourself.
Change starts at home. I take the PATH and MTA trains to work, but Kelly, my wife, drives. I’m going to make this pitch to her tonight when I get home, and hopefully we’ll have one more carpool commuter in the near future.