Save on Gas: Find a Carpool Online

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Do gas prices drive you crazy? It is OK to go loco, as long as you GoLoco.org—a social network that is the brainchild of Robin Chase, the former CEO of Zip Car.

Chase tells MainStreet that GoLoco.org was built on three simple premises: To save money on gas, to help the environment by reducing carbon emissions and to connect likeminded people. GoLoco.org offers "drivers" and "passengers" the opportunity to share costs, trips and perhaps, good conversation.

Chase wants people to have a solid handle on how much it actually costs to own and maintain a car. According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Statistics, the average person spends close to 18% of their Average Annual Household Expenditure on car ownership and operating expenses. Consider this: If a Prius transmissions (gas-electric hybrids) goes kaput, the resulting damage can cost around $8,700 to repair. That's a lot of moolah.

Other mounting concerns for the American driver are congestion pricing, parking pricing and carbon taxes. (See Glossary Below*)

HOW TO FIGHT THESE EXPENSES
Begin by developing an online profile. GoLoco in turn keeps track of how good a passenger you are with message boards to rate you. It also monitors how much CO2 you jettisoned by not driving by yourself. Mark Chase, Robin's brother who does not own a car, is also in on the plan. His profile denotes that he has taken 17 trips and saved 364 lbs of CO2. Mark uses GoLoco to attend a Contra Dancing group that is out of state. That’s nothing though compared to Seth Davis, who is "GoLoco's One Ton User."

Davis, an avid cyclist and car owner in Cambridge, Mass., says, “Once I started using GoLoco, it made it very easy to fill my car with people headed to the New England Velodrome for Races. It’s been great for me to help cover the costs of having a car in the city and of buying gas to go do things out of town…[carpooling] was a no brainer, [I] bring in money each time I go on a trip or to a race.”

With a little more than 10,000 registered users in the U.S., Robin Chase wants carpooling to catch on the Midwest. She mentions an interesting concept: Inviting megachurches to participate in weekly carpools. An average megachurch has 2000 parishioners. If a four-person family drives their SUV to church, over the course of a year they may spend in excess of $1, 612.00. But if this family carpools, that amount could diminish by half, along with a significant portion of their carbon footprint.

"Just as eBay EBAY forever changed the notion of the yard sale and Craigslist is rendering the classified sections of newspapers defunct, more and more social media like GoLoco.org are finding creative new ways to connect people online," says Danny O. Snow, a senior research fellow at the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR.org). "The real beauty is that they ALL conserve resources -- whether it's gas, trees, or the most precious of all: Time."


ADDITIONAL CARPOOL SITES
eRideShare.com
Carpool.com
RideSearch.com


*GLOSSARY
Congestion Pricing (sometimes referred to as value pricing) charges a driver a toll during on-peak hours in particularly congested urban areas. The majority of motorists traveling during rush hours do not comprise commuters; therefore, such pricing would encourage non-commuters to find alternative modes of transport. Not only would this cut down on carbon emissions, the money procured by tolls could be invested, suggests Chase, in improving subways and trains. Congestion pricing has been received well in London. In the U.S., only a few states, such as California, Florida and Oregon, have managed to test congestion pricing.

Parking Pricing encourages urban areas to charge higher meter rates in high traffic zones. Driving around the block for twenty minutes looking for that perfect parking spot, may be cheaper than a parking lot; however the toll it exacts on the environment is a steep price to pay. Donald Shoup, the chairman of UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, strongly encourages cities raise "the price of curbside parking in business districts and direct the extra revenue into plants, trees, benches, lighting and sidewalk improvements in the area directly affected."

Carbon Taxes or CO2 Tax is a potential tax on fossil fuels.

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