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What Is a Ride Share?

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Question: What Is a Ride Share?
No matter whether you call it a carpool, van pool, slug lane or ride share, the bottom line is saving money, protecting the environment and building community. Read on to learn more.
Answer:

Ride sharing. You may have heard someone talk about their ride share and wondered at the foreign concept. The definition of a ride share is simply when two or more people share a car trip. Usually they arrange ride shares for convenience, but the added benefits are burning less gasoline, saving on parking and gas, taking a higher-speed lane on the highway or simply enjoying each other's company.

You may have a routine and formal ride share, such as every Monday or even every workday. Or you could arrange a ride share for one-off automobile journeys or even for especially long trips. Most work commute ride shares consist of family members sharing a vehicle and driving together at the same time.

Some big urban areas provide ride share pickup locations -- sometimes known as slug lanes -- where drivers can pick up a stranger while coming in or out of the city. Often, the areas where these ride share arrangements are most popular are those where highways contain carpool lanes designated for vehicles with a specific minimum number of people, usually two or three. This gives drivers an added incentive to ferry passengers.

There are usually more people seeking to ride share in cities with longer rush hours and worse traffic congestion. Not to mention the phenomenon of "extreme commuting," where people journey an hour or more to work every day. That definitely ups the interest in ride sharing. You can find a ride share through the Web or workplace ride share postings.

You may wonder about the etiquette of carpooling. Some passengers may offer to pay for tolls or gas as an acknowledgement of the wear and tear on the driver's car, or simply a way to say thank you. However, some people are possessive about their vehicles and may not want someone else taking the wheel, unless it's a very long trip.

Key points for a regular ride share.

If you're in a regular carpool, you should definitely consider the typical stress points ahead of time. For instance, if people are late in either direction, it can be an inconvenience to the other passengers. A habit of lateness could get you kicked out of the carpool.

You'll also want to work out the rules of the road ahead of time. Who will pay for gas? Will the driver rotate? Does everyone have a working vehicle? What's the policy on eating or drinking in the car, playing music or talking on the cell phone? Everyone has a different evening and morning routine, so you'll need to bear in mind personality, style and work predictability when setting these rules. This is not the time to bend the truth in an attempt at being polite -- it's better just to be honest.

Finally, make back up plans and remember that things do happen. If one person gets stuck late at work, how will the carpool accommodate that? What if someone's child gets sick and they need to leave early to pick her up from daycare?

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