Saturday, August 9, 2008

Carpooling alone

While I was in the woods the other week, people at work were having a carpool "meet and greet". That event was definitely spurred by raising gasoline prices, and was set up by folks in our central office. It reminded me of the "ride share" boards we had in college in the '70s (and I assume students still do this) where people would self-organize combined trips for weekends and semester end.

I heard about the meeting ahead of time, and talked to the people setting it up, since I would not be there. They had planned to set up a city map, then let people tack up their ride data on slips of paper. I think someone took pictures, but have not seen them or the map yet. From what I heard, less than 50 people attended, which is better than none, but still a small percentage of our workforce.

After I got back, I got a spreadsheet with peoples names, hours, and contact information, organized by county (directions from where we work, for those unfamiliar with Maryland geopolitics). There were 3 or 4 in my area, including a couple people I know. However, most of their locations were not on routes I normally take, nor the early work hours I prefer.

I found 1 person whose coordinates resembled mine, so I called him. Well, we traded phone calls and email for a couple days before actually speaking. I suggested a park-and-ride-lot that I knew about, but that he didn't. So, Thursday this week we started a carpooling experiment.

My first connection was almost lost, as I expected it would take me 15 minutes to drive the 10 miles to our meeting point; it was about 17 minutes, meaning I'll need to leave a bit earlier than my original guess. But we got to work about 15 minutes later, so my total commute was only 5 minutes longer than if I drove "straight" to work.

Leaving work is a bigger coordination effort, since sometimes projects or incidents run over. But I like the idea of not attending those very late in the day meetings that are sometimes proposed.

The "alone" part of this blog title is the fact that the park-and-ride lot is empty but for us. On the first morning, there was one (1) truck there. In the afternoon, there was a taxi waiting for calls, and a couple practicing parallel parking. On the second day, no one else was there either in the morning or afternoon.

It's sad that these lots were set up as a result of earlier gas crises, yet we continue to drive alone in our cars the majority of the time.

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