One of the first tips people give when they say to go green is to ride a bike instead of driving. It creates zero emissions, saves money, and is great exercise. However, this is not always possible, as Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles learned during Ride Your Bike to Work Week. In some places, it’s much too dangerous to ride your bike. There are also people who live too far from work to bike. One possible way to cut back on a carbon footprint, and even save money, is to participate in a rideshare program.
What is a Rideshare Program?
A rideshare program allows people to combine driving their car or participate in a carpool with other modes of public transportation. This is a great option in areas where there’s plenty of public transportation, but it’s much too dangerous or otherwise impossible to consider biking or walking. In many instances, it may even be faster than driving.
For example, I live in the Inland Empire and go to school in Los Angeles. Though this is only a half hour drive if there’s no traffic, driving is an unattractive prospect. The cost of gas alone makes me cringe, and there is always traffic in Los Angeles. However, while LA has a great public transportation system in place, the system in the Inland Empire is lacking and it can take up to two and a half hours to get to school if I took public transportation the whole way. This makes me a perfect candidate for a rideshare program.
How Can I Participate in a Rideshare Program?
It is very easy to participate in a rideshare program. All you need is a transportation center with parking available and transportation to where you want to go. Trains, subways, and buses are available here in Southern California, giving me my pick for what is more convenient for my schedule and my budget. Subways don’t run where I live, but I do have access to a train and express buses. There are pros and cons to each.
Trains cost a little more, but there’s more freedom. You can eat and drink on the train, and they even have bathrooms. They’re also usually cleaner. They also don’t operate on streets, so things like traffic jams don’t affect them. However, they also have a higher cost of operation, so they’re not always as readily available as the bus. Express buses are a nice option because they run much more frequently, but they’re not as fast as the train, and they cost a little bit less. However, they also crowd faster and can get stuck in traffic. My commute if I take the train is about fifty minutes, and if I take an express bus is about an hour and fifteen minutes. I normally take the bus because I have an odd schedule and it costs a little less.
How Do You Save Money?
There are various ways rideshare programs save you money. The easiest example is gas money. When you don’t drive as much, you buy less gas. Students and seniors can usually get discounts on monthly transportation passes, which would save them even more money. Some companies even participate in incentive programs that provide their workers with free transportation passes.
When I was in school last quarter, I calculated how much money I saved from ridesharing. I spent $40 a week on my transportation costs for ten weeks, for a total of $400. If I had driven that distance, my costs would have been $59 a week, for a total of $590. In just ten weeks, I saved $190 over driving the entire distance. None of these figures take into account my insurance rates, which would have gone up for driving such a far daily distance.
Rideshare Programs are a Great Way to Reduce Pollution
If you’re on a bus that’s holding 100 people, that’s up to 100 cars off the road and replaced with just one bus. Even if you drive a short distance, you’re still reducing emissions by not driving the whole way. If you live in an area where it’s too dangerous to bike or walk, and you can’t use public transportation for the entire distance, rideshare programs are an excellent alternative to driving.