Carpooling is the sharing of car
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 journeys so that more than one person travels in a car.

By having more people using one vehicle, carpooling reduces each person's travel costs such as fuel costs
Gasoline and diesel usage and pricing
The usage and pricing of gasoline results from factors such as crude oil prices, processing and distribution costs, local demand, the strength of local currencies, local taxation, and the availability of local sources of gasoline...

, toll
The word toll has several meanings.Road transportation infrastructure* "Toll" is sometimes used as a synonym for tariff** Toll road, a road for which road usage tolls are charged...

s, and the stress of driving. Carpooling is also seen as a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to travel as sharing journeys reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

 on the roads, and the need for parking
Parking is the act of stopping a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied for more than a brief time. Parking on one or both sides of a road is commonly permitted, though often with restrictions...

 spaces. Authorities often encourage carpooling, especially during high pollution periods and high fuel prices.

In 2009 carpooling represented 10% of commute travel in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, most of which involves spouses.

How it works

Drivers and passengers offer and search for journeys through one of the several mediums available. After finding a match they contact each other to arrange any details for the journey(s). Costs, meeting points and other details like space for luggage are discussed and agreed on. They then meet and carry out their shared car journey(s) as planned.

Carpooling is commonly implemented for commuting
Commuting is regular travel between one's place of residence and place of work or full time study. It sometimes refers to any regular or often repeated traveling between locations when not work related.- History :...

 but is also popular for longer one-off journeys, with the formality and regularity of arrangements varying between schemes and journeys.

Carpooling is not always arranged for the whole length of a journey. Especially on long journeys, it is common for passengers to only join for parts of the journey, and give a contribution based on the distance that they travel. This gives carpooling extra flexibility, and enables more people to share journeys and save money.

The arrangements for carpooling can be made through many different mediums, including:
  • Public websites
  • Closed website schemes
  • Carpooling software
  • Manned carpooling agencies
  • Pick-up points (not pre-arranged)


In an effort to reduce traffic and encourage carpooling some countries have introduced high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in which only vehicles with two or more passengers are allowed to drive. In some countries it is also common to find parking spaces that are reserved especially for carpoolers. Many companies and local authorities have introduced carpooling schemes, often as part of wider transport programs.

In 2011, an organization called Greenxc
Started in 2011, GreenXC is an organization that works to raise awareness for National Parks, National Forests and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s nearly 400 national parks. It focuses on the youth and reaches out to connect them to the parks and forests in order to...

 created a campaign to in order to encourage others to use this form of transportation in order to reduce their own carbon footprint.


Carpooling first became prominent in the United States as a rationing
Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, or services. Rationing controls the size of the ration, one's allotted portion of the resources being distributed on a particular day or at a particular time.- In economics :...

 tactic during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It returned in the mid-1970s due to the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 and the 1979 energy crisis
1979 energy crisis
The 1979 oil crisis in the United States occurred in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. Amid massive protests, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled his country in early 1979 and the Ayatollah Khomeini soon became the new leader of Iran. Protests severely disrupted the Iranian oil...

. At that time the first employee vanpools were organized at Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 and 3M
3M Company , formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, United States....


Since the 1970s carpooling has declined significantly. In the US it peaked in 1980 with a commute mode share of 19.7%, and by 2010, it was only 10%. Recently, however, the internet has facilitated growth for carpooling. The popularity of the internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 and mobile phones has greatly helped carpooling to expand, by enabling people to offer and find rides more easily, and easily contact each other to arrange them.

Forms of carpooling

Carpooling also exists in other forms:
  • Slugging
    Slugging, also known as casual carpooling, is the practice of forming ad hoc, informal carpools for purposes of commuting, essentially a variation of ride-share commuting and hitchhiking. While the practice is most common and most publicized in the congested Washington, D.C. area, slugging also...

     is a form of ad-hoc, informal carpooling between strangers. No money changes hands, but a mutual benefit still exists between the driver and passenger(s) making the practice worthwhile.

  • Flexible carpooling
    Flexible carpooling
    Flexible carpooling is carpooling that is not arranged ahead of time, but instead makes use of designated meeting places. It seeks to replicate the informal 'slug-lines' that form in Washington DC, Houston, and San Francisco, by establishing more formal locations for travelers to form carpools...

     expands the idea of ad-hoc carpooling by designating formal locations for travelers to join carpools.

  • Real-time ridesharing allows people to arrange ad-hoc rides on very short notice, through the use of smartphone
    A smartphone is a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. The first smartphones were devices that mainly combined the functions of a personal digital assistant and a mobile phone or camera...

     applications or the internet. Passengers are simply picked up at their current location.

Challenges for carpooling

  • Flexibility - Carpooling can struggle to be flexible enough to accommodate en-route stops or changes to working times/patterns. To counter this some schemes offer 'sweeper services' with later running options, or a 'guaranteed ride home' arrangement with a local taxi company.
  • Reliability - If a carpooling network lacks a "critical mass" of participants, it may be difficult to accomplish certain trips. In addition, the parties may not necessarily follow through on the agreed-upon ride. Several internet carpooling schemes are addressing this concern by implementing systems for flagging irresponsible users, and by completing ride payments even if passengers do not turn up.
  • Riding with strangers - Concerns over security have long been an obstacle to sharing a vehicle with strangers, though in reality the risk of crime is small. One remedy used by internet carpooling schemes is to use systems for flagging problematic users.

External links

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