ridesharing | 511 Contra Costa

Carpooling: Easier Than Ever (with Apps)

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!

Contra Costa County Guaranteed Ride Home
Alameda County Guaranteed Ride Home
Marin County Emergency Ride Home
San Francisco County Emergency Ride Home
Santa Clara County Emergency Ride Home
Solano County Emergency Ride Home

“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
  • $25 Bonus: Carpool at least once a week in Contra Costa County & you can apply for the $25 Commuter Incentive
  • Cleaner Air: Fewer cars on the road means less emissions and better air quality
  • Less Stress: Getting out from behind the wheel allows you to read, relax, or even work
  • Be Social: If you have to drive to work, why do it alone?
  • Get Happy: Studies have shown a direct link between shorter commutes and greater satisfaction with life

Ready to give carpooling a try? If you live or work in Contra Costa be sure to sign up for the $25 Commuter Incentive, then visit the 511CC Carpool page for more information on how to get started!
If you have any questions about carpooling, feel free to contact us by emailing hello@511cc.org.

How have tolls affected Casual Carpool?

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?

Antioch carpoolers find friendship through shared 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”