Carpooling, lift sharing, ride-sharing or car sharing – whatever you call it, the idea is that two or more people share a car to get to their mutual destinations rather than driving alone.  This might be a prospect you find a bit scary to begin with, especially if you’re a person who is shy, but you’ll soon find that not only will you gain friendship, there’ll be a whole host of other benefits too – think of the money you could save if you only drove to work for one week out of two.

If you want car sharing to work you’ll need to set a few ground rules and have a think about implementing some of them before you totally commit yourself.

  • A trial period:  Suggest trialling your car share for a month to see how it goes and if it is convenient for you both (or all).  If things don’t seem to be working out then take another look at your arrangements.  Don’t feel you need to commit yourself to car sharing every single day of the week if you don’t want to! It might only works for everyone on Mondays and Fridays!  Remember, every little helps!
  • The route and times: Establish the morning pick-up points and also the time and meeting place for the trip home.  You might be working in different buildings so always exchange phone numbers.  That way, if you are running late or are ill one day you can let them know with plenty of notice, and vice versa.
  • The ground rules: It’s always best to discuss certain issues in advance to give your car share a better chance of success as everyone has different standards of what is acceptable in their car.  For example, smoking or non-smoking? And is food allowed?  If you are giving a ride to anyone younger than 14 years of age it is your legal responsibility to make sure they are wearing their seat belt!
  • Schedule: If you will be sharing the driving will you alternate daily, weekly or monthly? With the week being only 5 days long it can be difficult to split so why don’t you take alternative weeks?
  • Reimbursement: If you share the driving equally this won’t be an issue. However, if someone is without a car and is only asking for a lift then you should agree in advance the amount, regularity and dates of payment – this should avoid any awkwardness or arguments later!
  • Communication: If there are many people car sharing, it’s wise to draw up a list of everyone’s mobile numbers and agree how you will notify everybody if arrangements need to change for any reason.  Also, in case of the driver being unavailable for any reason, choose a system for selecting a reserve driver.

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What’s in it for Me?

  • Reduced costs: The cost of driving your car is far more than just the petrol you use.  You’ll obviously not make a profit, but sharing your journey means that you can also share the costs of petrol and save a considerable amount of money over the course of the year.
  • Less stress: Driving in busy traffic every day can lead to stress. Having someone to talk to can reduce your stress levels by the time you get to work, which is certainly preferable to arriving at work already stressed! Not only that but if you are stuck in traffic then you have someone else to confirm your story as to why you’re late.
  • Socialising: Car sharing gives you companionship and the opportunity to make new friends, maybe with somebody you otherwise wouldn’t have known that well or it could also improve an existing relationship.
  • Help the Environment: Look around you – how many cars do you see occupied by only one person?! Thank goodness, so many of us are becoming environmentally aware.  By sharing your car you are being part of the solution and not just part of the problem!
  • For organisations: Contact your local council, there may already be an incentive for car sharing that you’re not aware of – if there isn’t you could suggest the idea to your company.  It can also reduce the cost of providing employee car parking spaces for your employers, not to mention reducing congestion on site and in the local area. Actively supporting car sharing is making a positive environmental statement about your company! Why not contact the local press? Try and raise some awareness at the same time as raising your company profile!

 If you have office space in Cambridge or a similarly built up area, why not try and find an alternative path to work?  For example, the Park and Ride is a green way of getting to and from work and buses run every 10 minutes in and out of the city centre!