Carpooling makes sense - after all, it saves money, fuel, and the environment, but figuring out a sensible arrangement isn't always easy. Sometimes it ends up being more trouble than it's worth! Below are some ways to avoid the pitfalls that can make carpooling a headache.
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How to Carpool

Carpooling makes sense - after all, it saves money, fuel, and the environment, but figuring out a sensible arrangement isn't always easy. Sometimes it ends up being more trouble than it's worth! Below are some ways to avoid the pitfalls that can make carpooling a headache...

1. Decide on a departure point. The first step is to figure out where everyone will meet. You have three options here, each with their pros and cons:

• The home of the driver. This is the ideal arrangement if everybody lives walking distance from each other, but it can get confusing if people take turns driving.

• A convenient location, such as a park-and-ride lot next to the highway, or a lot that's centrally located among all of the participants.

• Driver picks everyone up. Again, this works best if the participants live close together, and it can be impractical if you rotate drivers (like if the person who lives closest to the destination has to drive 10 minutes further away just to pick someone up).

• An added bonus is that the people who aren't driving that day can be completely car-free, possibly letting someone else in the house use it, which can enable some households to give up one of their cars; this will help you save money.

2. Decide who's driving. One person can drive all the time, while the riders chip in for gas and maintenance, or everyone can take turns driving. This can depend on a few different factors:

• Who has the most fuel efficient car? If one person in the carpool has a gas guzzler and another person has a hybrid, then it might be in the group's best interest to use the hybrid more often, because then everyone pays less for gas. This does, however, put more wear and tear on the hybrid.

• Who has the most comfortable car? If you carpool every day with several people for a long commute, a spacious interior might make things a little more enjoyable for everyone. There might also be the awkward situation in which one person has an uncomfortable car (no A/C or heat, for example).

• Who's in the best location? Sometimes it makes the most sense for the person who's furthest away from the destination to pick everyone up, presuming the homes are on the way to the destination.

3. Set up a schedule. Figure out what time to meet, or what times people will get picked up. This might take a little trial and error, so be conservative when you start.

4. Calculate the costs. For every day that you're carpooling, you should know who's driving and for how many miles. (If you all meet at the same spot every day, the number of miles won't vary.) You should also get a good estimate on each vehicle's fuel efficiency if you're going to rotate drivers and if some vehicles are much more fuel efficient than others. Be sure to account for maintenance costs, as well, especially if one person drives all or most of the time - gas is not the only cost. Here are some estimates for 2008 (US) which include the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, etc.:

• small sedan - $0.42/mile
• medium sedan - $0.55/mile
• large sedan - $0.65/mile
• 4WD sports utility - $0.70/mile
• minivan - $0.57/mile

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