How often do you travel by car? How often do you do this alone?
I commute to work on a daily basis but normally I’m in the car by myself. I have to admit it can be a nice quiet time in the morning before I face the daily grind in the office but it also seems a little wasteful. Every morning I look around the office car park (which doesn’t actually have enough spaces) I’d say 90% of those cars turned up with only one driver that morning.
Idealistic days of travelling down an open road are long gone (unless you happen to be far north on some of the beautiful A Roads in Scotland). Traffic congestion is constantly increasing as well as pollution. I read somewhere the other day that the UK is the second most congested country in the world; whether this is still accurate or not I’m not 100% sure but you get the idea. Journeys are increasingly taking longer and becoming more frustrating.
Owning a car is also becoming more and more expensive. Fuel keeps going up, insurance and repairs on modern cars are becoming costlier as the cars become more advanced (aka needlessly complicated).
I admit we need a car (well, two actually) but I thought maybe there’s alternatives that I haven’t explored yet. I’d heard about carpooling but had never really thought about using it as I thought it would be inconvenient, but I thought why not give it a go. When I got to work in the morning, I looked into our car-pooling scheme at work.
It seemed quite good on the surface. I simply entered my details; a little about me and also about my typical travel times. There were added benefits of a guaranteed parking space in the office car park and you received vouchers which you could use in the office canteen. The net effect would be that I’d either save money on fuel or have the costs off-set and wouldn’t have to park 10 miles from the office.
Once I’d signed up, how did it go? To be honest, perfectly. There’s been the odd day when the person picking me up (on the days I don’t drive) was a few minutes late. Apart from that I can’t really complain. I get to work in the same time, don’t have to worry about parking, save money and can be slightly smug that I’m helping the environment and reduce congestion. I also get to have a conversation rather than listening to some inane drivel
on the radio (so the risk of me shouting at some news story has greatly reduced).
As it’s been a such a success on that front I’m now thinking about taking things a bit further and actually carpooling for other journeys as well. I won’t use it all the time (passengers wouldn’t appreciate a screaming two-year-old and the risk of some form of food product being flung at them at any moment) but I will use it for some.
The limitation of the car scheme at work was for that it was for planned rides and solely for the office commute; I, therefore, had to find another solution. I stumbled across a company called TangoRide (I’d recommend a look at their website) which offers real-time and planned carpooling options, so I’ll be giving that a go soon. I’ll get to keep my car but save money and help to make the roads a little better so I can’t really see any negatives with it.
So, to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this article, I genuinely hope they are. The road to improving our transport networks and car journeys will be long but if we all start to think about smarter ways of traveling, we will get there sooner than you may think.