Is carpooling for you? Here’s a quick test: Do you dislike sitting in traffic, enjoy saving money and wouldn’t mind a little company on the drive to work? If you answered “yes”, keep reading. Myths Debunked “It’s hard to find people to carpool with.” Finding people to carpool with is actually easier than it’s ever been. Beyond networking with friends, neighbors & co-workers to create a traditional carpool, apps like Lyft Line, UberPOOL, Scoop and Carzac help you connect with a carpool one ride at a time with no long-term commitment. Advance planning ranges from a few hours (Scoop) to a few minutes (LyftLine, UberPOOL). “Carpooling doesn’t offer enough flexibility.” Carpooling works best when you tailor it to your needs. You don’t have to carpool five days a week; you can carpool as much as you like. Would you like to alternate between riding and driving? That can be arranged. And if you enjoy having no long-term commitment but want to go app-free, you can always try Casual Carpool. Just remember, there’s no wrong way to carpool!
“If I miss my carpool, I’ll be stranded.” The Guaranteed Ride Home program ensures that carpoolers (and other alternative commuters) have a ride home when the unexpected happens. In the event of a crisis, unscheduled overtime or a carpool vehicle breaking down, Guaranteed Ride Home will reimburse you for your taxi or rideshare trip home up to six times a calendar year if you’re registered in the program.
NOTE: Which Guaranteed Ride Home program you’re eligible for depends on your county of employment. For more information, click the appropriate county program in the table above.
The Benefits of Carpooling
Here are some strong arguments in favor of carpooling:
Faster Commute: With access to more HOV lanes in Contra Costa County, you travel faster and get to work sooner
Save Money: Splitting the cost of gas and tolls saves you money
Peer-to-peer car-sharing services continue to grow, and this poster seems to captures why: it’s cheap and easy, lettings folks “rent cars by the hour” from people in their neighborhood. Photo credit: Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester
In the Bay Area we are fortunate to have a variety of ways of getting around for work, shop, and play. Recently, BART and bicycling (including bike-sharing) have received a lot of attention but there’s a glorious buffet of transportation options out there. One of the fastest growing options is car-sharing. Car-sharing is a convenient and easy way to save (or make) some money while reducing your carbon footprint. Here’s a sampling of the car-sharing section of the transportation buffet in the Bay Area.
While there are formal car-sharing companies such as Zipcar and City CarShare, peer-to-peer car-sharing availability has grown considerably in Contra Costa County– just take a look at this map from RelayRides showing available cars in the East Bay:
RelayRide cars are all over the East Bay. Image via: RelayRides
Check out the RelayRides video. It cleverly demonstrates the concept in just two and a half minutes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuW1CicTqeg For a full list of car-sharing options, check out our car-sharing page. Video credit: RelayRides
Then there are peer-to-peer ride-share and carpooling services, such as Lyft and Sidecar, in which you pull out your phone and within minutes someone comes picks you up in their car. This service is better suited for short and perhaps spontaneous trips across town. This type of service is currently focused in San Francisco, which can still be convenient if you commute into the city and need a ride to the other side of town. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is currently partnering with Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) to pilot a similar app called “Real-Time Ridesharing” or RTR.
One of the latest car-sharing services to hit the streets of the Bay Area is Flightcar, and it is specifically tailored to airport travel. If you have a car and are driving to SFO, you can leave it with a Flightcar attendant and they will allow other people to use your car while you are gone. Alternatively, if you are coming into SFO (or have guests flying in) – they can rent someone else’s car seamlessly, and safely, via Flightcar. Head over to Flightcar and get the details.
Similar services such as Airbnb, which allow you to rent a room in someone’s house or list a room in your home for short-term rental, peer-to-peer car-sharing is just one more way we can all share our existing resources and make getting around easier. It may seem like there is an air of mystery with these kinds of shared services but once you try them you quickly find out they are quite reliable, and predictable. Many peer-to-peer car-sharing services even prescreen users, link to their facebook profiles, and allow users to rate each other so you can rest easily knowing a bit about the person you rent your car to or from. So sit back, relax, and check out some of the peer-to-peer car-sharing services we’ve highlighted or head over to our car-sharing page for more similar services in the Bay Area.
Try casual carpooling from select BART stations or BART Park n Ride locations to San Francisco. BART has made arrangements for a casual carpool pickups to occur at one of 3 locations in downtown San Francisco.
Corner of Beale and Folsom for destinations:
Hercules Park N Ride
Richmond Parkway Park n Ride
Concord BART stations
Corner of Howard and Spear for destinations:
Union City BART stations.
On Spear between Howard and Folsom for destinations:
BART has limited charter bus service that will take commuters from specific BART stations to West Oakland BART where commuters transfer to buses to San Francisco or local transit providers for Oakland destinations.
The services is M-F; 5-8 a.m. to San Francisco and 3-7 p.m. to East Bay. Service is first come, first served.
BART customers who would like to ride the BART-sponsored buses should arrive early to the outlying stations to ride the shuttle into Oakland or San Francisco.
Make sure you board the right bus and you must have a ticket to get back in the evening.
El Cerrito Del Norte BART Station has more capacity than Walnut Creek.
BART added bus service from the Concord and San Leandro BART Stations.
There will be BART representatives in the stations to guide customers to the shuttle stops.
Going to San Francisco?
Some buses will go directly into San Francisco and some will stop at West Oakland for transfer into San Francisco. Going to Oakland?
Transfer from a BART shuttle to AC transit buses bound for downtown Oakland. Parking Parking is free at BART and parking enforcement will be suspended. Please park sensibly. Parking permit fees paid during the strike will be refunded. Driving
As the BART shuttles offer limited service, the mode with the greatest capacity is still carpooling and ridesharing/casual carpool. Try to coordinate a ride with your co-workers and neighbors. Stay Informed
Instead of refreshing BART.gov, sign up for our #BARTstrike list. We’ll send you an email with the latest news and service updates.
Catching a ride with someone via Lyft, as indicated by the car wearing an iconic pink mustache. Photo credit: lizasperling
Let’s face it, it was only a matter of time.
You have a smart phone, you just got out of a meeting and want to get across town. So you pull out your phone and within minutes someone comes to pick you up. What is this being described? It’s a new breed of carpool apps in action. Sidecar, and Lyft are two – in a growing field of – smartphone applications that let you, the user, “fill your car’s empty seats with new friends or need to get across town in a hurry” as Sidecar puts it. Its modern, real-time, carpooling.
Apps like Lyft and Sidecar are one more tool – in addition to transit, taxi, walking, cycling – in the toolbox to help one get around town in a snap without having to drive your own car. For drivers, its a way to offset the costs of driving and reduce the environmental impact of your trips.
While Sidecar and Lyft are currently focused in San Francisco, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is partnering with Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), piloted a similar app called “Real-Time Ridesharing” or RTR.
Interested in learning more? Find out what these apps are all about: read about Sidecar here, Lyft here, and RTR here.
The Great Race for Clean Air is a friendly competition between Bay Area companies to encourage the use of commute alternatives such as transit, carpooling, vanpooling, walking and bicycling rather than driving alone to work to reduce greenhouse gases and smog levels in the Bay Area. Last year, 190 companies throughout the Bay Area saved 435 tons of CO2 by using commute alternatives. Register your company to get started by August 31, 2012. Winning employers will be presented with trophies at a local Board of Supervisors meeting. Every participating employer will receive a certificate for participating. Take a look on how to sign up.
Save money and time on your commute and share the ride! 511 Contra Costa’s updated Park and Ride page will help those seeking a more economical and tolerable commute. Park and Ride lots help you connect with carpools and vanpools. Make commute less stressful by reducing the amount of driving you have to do. Once you find someone to carpool or vanpool with, select one of several locations throughout the Bay Area to meet up, and then ride in a car or vanpool to work.
Many of the designated Park and Ride locations are also near transit stops and feature bike parking, allowing you to ditch your car altogether. 511 Contra Costa has included Park and Ride as one more tool in the toolbox of alternatives to driving to work, paying toll fees, and constantly filling up on gas.
To find someone to carpool with use the 511 Rideshare ridematch tool.
Commuting and grocery shopping – two things you have to do anyway.
511 has a way to make both of them much cheaper.
You can already use the new RideMatch system to find vanpool and carpool ride(r)s online, but when you log your week’s commutes from now through July, you’ll be entered into a monthly drawing for rewards.
You only have to commute to work eight days a month to win a $100 grocery gift card or 2GB iPod Shuffle with a $10 iTunes Gift Card.
Carpool 24 times in 90 days to be eligible for a $500 grocery gift card each month. Register for RideMatch and get started on your trip diary today.
Why join RideMatch? Other than linking you with people making the same trip, it offers a great format for people looking to get into ridesharing. To get started, consider the following tips.
Ridesharing is flexible. Once a week or every day.
Contact everyone on your Matchlist. Call or send an e-mail.
If people on your matchlist don’t work out, check back often. People are added to the system daily.
Before starting, meet potential partners and discuss details.
Talk about who will alternate driving.
Determine your route and schedule.
Discuss insurance, parking, emergencies, illness and vacations.
Establish rules for cell phones, perfume, eating, etc.
Need help? Call 511, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, and say “Rideshare” to speak to a live operator..
Have you seen Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel? It’s a simple concept – a hurried New Yorker hops into a taxi cab only to find out it’s a Cash Cab! They answer questions for money as they approach their destination, and have to leave with their winnings when they give an incorrect answer.
KOFY-TV brought the Cash Cab concept to the Bay Area with Carpool Showdown. What the Bay Area lacks in taxis, we make up for in Casual Carpool. The show gives three unsuspecting casual carpoolers the chance to win cash on their way to work for answering questions, spotting Volkswagon Beetles, and other acts of hilarity.
You can catch Carpool Showdown on KOFY, Channel 13, at 9 pm on Sundays. Archived episodes are available online.
Ready to give casual carpooling a try? Find your location below.
Already a casual carpooler? Share your experiences in the comments.
For over 30 years, casual carpoolers invited strangers into their cars to avoid paying a toll on the Bay Bridge. This uncommon act saved everyone both money and time, and was good for more than a few good stories.
On July 1 of last year, the the MTC began charging a $2.50 toll on the Bay Bridge carpool lane. How has this affected casual carpool?
Each day, about 5,000 fewer cars use the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge.
Many more drivers are using the non-carpool lane before 5 am and after 10 am (and getting a lower toll than peak period drivers).
BART ridership is up 8% during the morning rush.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is on track to raise an extra $164 million a year that will go towards dozens of transit and highway projects throughout the Bay Area.
Commute delays dropped about 15% (from 27 to 23 minutes) compared to the previous year according to the Bay Area Toll Authority.
But how has the toll affected the experience of casual carpool, itself?
There still seems to be some uncertainty on toll etiquette. Browsing various blogs and casual carpool sites, it looks like consensus is beginning to form on how to handle the toll.
If as a driver, you would prefer to have passengers contribute to the toll, or if as a passenger you cannot contribute, straighten this out before getting in the car. One of the tenants of casual carpool is that you never accept a passenger/ride that makes you uncomfortable. This includes payment. Just wait for another passenger or another ride.
If you are collecting contributions towards the toll, try not to ask for more than the value of the toll. $2.50 splits evenly between two passengers, but not three. Do your best to divide evenly. Asking $1 each from three people makes more sense than trying to get the $1.25 two-person rate from three people. If you end up ahead at the end of the week, consider paying it forward and giving a free ride to someone that needs it.
Krista Michell, a Pinole resident quoted in the SF Examiner, called turning a profit on casual carpool “disgusting,” saying “it kind of goes against the whole idea of the car-pooling system.”
Another rider on RideNow.org reports being asked to exit the car before the TransBay Terminal (the standard stop) because she didn’t have the requested $1.25. “All this over a dollar.”
Commuting is hard enough. Don’t make it harder on each other.
How have the July 2010 toll changes affected your commute?
Think your commute is a drag? If you’re traveling solo, ridesharing just might make your morning. As three Contra Costa County employees discovered, carpooling isn’t just for saving money, breezing through traffic, and reducing CO2 emissions–it can also be a great way to form meaningful friendships.
In late 2007, the story began when two commuters decided to share the drive from their homes in Antioch to work in downtown Martinez. After the addition of a third carpooler in 2008, what begin as a practical arrangement has since evolved into a fantastic friendship between the three carpoolers. Continue reading “Antioch carpoolers find friendship through shared commute”
Along with the holidays comes some good news for commuters who take transit and carpool or vanpool.
As we tweeted a couple of weeks ago, the mass transit tax for commuters was about to expire this year. In 2009, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased the tax benefit from $120 per month to $230 per month–achieving parity with parking benefits–but it was set to expire on December 31, 2010.
However, last week President Barack Obama signed a bill including a provision that extends the $230/mo. benefit at least through the end of 2011.
What does this mean for you? Under the tax break, mass transit riders can save up to $1,000 a year by setting aside $230 a month to cover transit costs. The money is not taxed, and is equal to the pre-tax amount that drivers can set aside for parking. Continue reading “Transit/vanpool tax benefit extended through 2011”
The July 1st toll changes on all state-owned Bay Area bridges will affect almost all motorists, including carpoolers and motorcyclists. Find out how your commute will be affected by reading our FAQ. If you have a question that isn’t answered, please leave a comment below.
1. What are the new tolls for regular/single commuters during peak and non-peak commuting hours?
Golden Gate Bridge – The toll on the Golden Gate Bridge remains the same for two-axle vehicles: $5 with FasTrak, $6 cash
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge – Weekdays (Monday-Friday) from 5-10 AM and 3-7 PM: $6
All other bridges* – Every day, all day: $5
Weekdays (Monday-Friday) at all other times: $4
Weekends (Saturday and Sunday): $5
2. What is the discounted toll for carpoolers during peak hours?
Peak/carpool hours are Weekdays (Monday-Friday) from 5-9 AM and 4-6 PM
Golden Gate Bridge – With FasTrak: $3. There is no dedicated carpool lane, so you must stop in a staff-toll lane to be accurately registered as a qualifying carpool.
All other bridges* – $2.50. You must use a designated carpool lane to qualify for the discount.
Update: due to rainstorms, the construction of a carpool lane along Eastbound I-80 has been postponed three weeks from the original stated date.
Beginning April 26th, Caltrans will close the ramps between Highway 4 and Eastbound Interstate 80 in Hercules for six months.
Caltrans will shut down access from Highway 4 to Eastbound I-80 at 12:01 am on April 26th; traffic will be rerouted onto local streets. Drivers can use the Cummings Skyway or take Hercules to connect to Eastbound I-80.
The closure is for the addition of 4.7 miles of carpool lane on I-80 between Highway 4 and the Carquinez Bridge, with the intention of easing traffic jams in the long term.
The carpool lane extension will cost about $28.5 million, paid for by funds from the $1 Bay Area bridge toll increase approved by voters in 2004. Source:
Huh? Do Your 2? What does this mean? 511 Contra Costa wants you to try green commuting by sharing your ride to work or school just two times per week. Hence, do your 2.
We’ve added a little extra whip or foam to the carpool and transit incentive–if you know the special promo code. Receive a $5 Peet’s Coffee & Tea gift card with your incentive by adding the promo code at the bottom of your online application. Current promotions can be found is here. Even if you are not eligible to receive the carpool or transit incentive, you may still receive a Peet’s Coffee & Tea gift card –if you submit the online application and the know the promo code. Hurry and apply as this special offer ends September 30, 2009. Read the details of special offers on the promotions page.
Share the Ride!
Carpool…Casually by pulling up to a curb and picking someone up at a casual carpool location. Unless otherwise arranged all carpools from the East Bay drop passengers at Fremont and Howard streets–or nearby–in downtown San Francisco. Where to Go
Albany–Pierce St. south of Central Ave. Across the street from the Pacific Far East shopping mall.
Berkeley–North Berkeley BART. On Sacramento, east of the entrance to the BART station. Rides to Civic Center as well as Downtown San Francisco: Drivers/riders going to Civic Center meet south of the newspaper racks. Downtown-bound cars pull up to, but not past, the newspaper racks.
El Cerrito–Del Norte BART. On Eastshore, just south of Orchard Supply Hardware. Do not park in the Orchard parking lot. You will be ticketed/towed.
Emeryville Christie & 64th–in front of 6363 Christie. See the discussion board for more info.
Emeryville Marina–Powell St. between Admiral and Commodore.
Hercules–Park and Ride. Off Highway 4 near I-80 south of the Highway 4/I-80. Caution: the lot has a new $3 daily parking fee. Lafayette BART. North of the station, just outside and to the right of the parking lot.
Moraga–Moraga Way. North side of Moraga Way, west of School Street.
Orinda BART–In the alley on the north side of Theater Square.
Piedmont–Oakland and Hillside. On Oakland Ave, just east of Hillside.
Richmond–Richmond Parkway Park and Ride. Richmond Parkway just west of I-80. Parking costs $3.00 per day. You may be towed if you park in the adjacent shopping center lot!
Vallejo–Park and Ride. In the lot, just west of 80 at Curtola Parkway and Lemon.
San Francisco–On Beale between Howard and Folsom.
Carpool…Formally by finding a co-worker, someone in your office building, or on-line at 511.org.
BART unions announced their plans to strike on Sunday August 16, 2009 at Midnight. 511 Contra Costa has carpools for all commuters traveling to, from or through Contra Costa County and free WestCAT Lynx Express Bus passes for commuters traveling from Hercules to San Francisco.