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1970's trend - carpooling - returns as a cure to high gas prices

People sharing a ride with co-workers for first time in years
What College Students Need to Know About Driving for Uber, Lyft
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 07:05:58-04

As many of us started returning to the office this year, gas prices started soaring. And now that daily commute is becoming very expensive for many workers.

Some drivers are taking a new spin on an old solution: joining carpools and vanpools.

You — or your parents — might remember gas lines from the 1970s, when gas was expensive and hard to find.

Out of those days came carpooling, where two or more people share the ride to split those gas costs.

Fast forward 40 years, and LaToya Davis is carpooling home from her job at a Veterans Affairs hospital. She's one of many new workers signing up for car and van pools.

Ron Bryant coordinates one and said it's a great way to avoid paying $5 or $6 per gallon gas prices.

"You save money on gas, and have a free place to park," he said.

How much can you save?

Let's say you have a typical 15-mile drive to work.

With gas at $5 a gallon, you are paying $4 each way to drive. That means:

  • You are paying $8 a day, at least $40 a week for gas to and from work, and parking fees sometimes.
  • But if you add one rider, you will pay just $20 a week for gas.
  • Add a second rider and pay just $13 a week.

Summer Jones oversees a regional carpool and vanpool program called OKI Rideshare and says it's about more than just gas.

"It's just relaxing," she said. "It saves money, saves wear and tear on your car. And some people like the friendship."

Carpool participation dropped sharply, until now

The US Census Bureau said carpooling peaked at 20% of all drivers in 1980 but fell to just 9% in recent years due to low gas prices.

But cheap gas is gone, and riders like Davis are happy carpooling is back.

"I save gas and time," she said. "Plus, I get to work on time too!"

So check with some co-workers who live near you, and consider sharing a ride so you don't waste your money.

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