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Instead of four individual employees driving four separate vehicles to a common destination every morning, a practice known as ridesharing would involve a single vehicle transporting all four workers to and from their shared workplace. A single college student driving to a concert several hours away from campus could also take advantage of a ridesharing program and share the driving expenses with several other concertgoers. Ridesharing, a form of carpooling, puts potential drivers in touch with potential passengers in order to reduce the total number of vehicles on the road.
Ridesharing, or carpooling, is not a new concept, but its appeal seems to become more apparent during times of higher fuel prices and a tighter economy. Ridesharing is also considered a more environmentally friendly alternative to single driver commutes in pollution-creating vehicles on overcrowded streets. Many cities encourage ridesharing by providing special high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for commuter cars carrying more than one passenger.
There are several ways to participate in a ridesharing program. Some co-workers may work out their own informal carpooling or ridesharing schedules amongst themselves, with a designated driver agreeing to pick up other passengers along the way. Others may meet at a designated ridesharing parking area and designate one vehicle for the rest of the commute. The driver would only be responsible for returning the other passengers to that ridesharing location.
Some cities and universities offer organized ridesharing programs for their citizens or students. A centralized Rideshare office accepts applications for both drivers and passengers, then provides this information to interested parties. For example, a driver who wants to participate in a city's ridesharing program would include his or her usual commute destination and departure time on a form. Others who might need a regular ride to that same general destination would also fill out a request form. The central Rideshare office would then contact both parties and allow them to discuss specific details.
This type of ridesharing program could also work for a one time trip or a drive to a popular destination. Several interested students could share a ride to their mutual hometown, for example, or a concertgoer could find a ride to a distant venue. Ridesharing programs could also help people find rides to medical appointments, shopping outlets or job interviews. Many ridesharing programs also include emergency transportation to a passenger's own car or home if it becomes necessary to leave early.
Ridesharing may not an ideal solution for everyone, however. Some people may have irregular work schedules, for example, or choose not to trust other drivers for their own timely arrivals and departures from work. Those employees and others who do have regular work commutes may find avoiding the hassles of driving on congested highways every morning to be the best advertising for a ridesharing program.