A few years ago a friend introduced me to the casual carpool. This was pre-smartphone days (I’m a dinosaur), pre-app, pre-rideshare services, pre, well…you get the point. The casual carpool is something that pre-dates all these tech solutions, and only could really occur in places where, well, people generally like each other, get along, and are don’t mind sharing resources. In other words, the San Francisco Bay Area. $6 tolls to cross the bridge into the city and massive congestion in every lane except the high occupancy vehicle lane (where 3 people are required, not 2, per vehicle) are also good motivators.
The way it worked, you’d basically stand in line at a seemingly random spot, and complete strangers would pull up to the curb. You’d, without question, hop in their car, and exchange perhaps only the most fleeting of greetings before putting some earphones in and listening to music or reading the paper (back when, you know, there was paper). Your driver would whiz through the HOV lane, bypass the toll booth scot-free, and arrive in San Francisco faster than any other way you or he could’ve gotten there separately. There, your driver would arrive at a seemingly random corner of a seemingly random block in the city, where all the occupants would automatically know it was time to disembark, give an ever-so-fleeting thank you and goodbye, and be on their merry way, perhaps never to see the person they just rode shotgun with, ever again.
These days, not to be cliche, but damnit, it just works, “there’s an app for that.” In fact, there are many great carpool and rideshare apps on the market.
Carpooling is a hip and easy way to get around and help reduce your carbon emissions.
These are the 15 best apps for carpool and rideshare that can help get you to where you need to go.
Companies like Carma, Lyft and Uber have brought carpooling into the super accessible sharing economy, which is a loose term that refers to a peer-to-peer business model. There is a lot of evidence to show that the sharing economy has solidly taken root around the world, and with good reason. Sharing economy businesses help build community and boost the local economy around positive growth and shared needs, like shared vehicles! And there’s nothing more community building than carpooling, right?
If you’re stuck with a commute that you must drive instead of taking public transport options like trains or buses, carpooling is definitely something to look into. As you might imagine, transportation is responsible for a huge chunk of the total carbon footprint in the United States — latest figures estimate about 30%. According to the smart folks at the EPA, this makes transportation the largest contributor to greenhouse gases, second only to the energy industry. But how can we reduce this huge percentage? Just like your mama taught you, the solution is to share. According to Rideshare, each carpool with four riders can reduce greenhouse gases by about 12,000 pounds annually, which is the equivalent of 500 gallons of gasoline.
Aside from decreasing your emissions and fuel costs, carpooling offers other bonuses like decreased need for vehicle maintenance. And if you are not the one driving, you can make new friends, finish up a few minutes of work, or make up for last night’s party with a little nap. Most big cities reward carpoolers with HOV lanes to accelerate the journey, special parking spaces, or discounted rates for parking.
There are lots of other lists like this on the internet, but most lists were outdated and the companies listed are defunct or non-functional. This is the most updated list of links, connections and information as of July 2015. Our list of the 15 best apps for carpool and rideshare will help you make friends, reduce your impact and green your commute!
Here are the 15 best carpool and rideshare apps for 2015:
- Lyft: One of the biggest names in the ridesharing space, Lyft lets riders instantly and easily connect with drivers to get to their destination. The app is user friendly, secure and fun to use. They offer a linking service that connects riders on similar routes to drop your rate and reduce the impact of your drive.
- Uber: The other big name in the ridesharing space, Uber is a slightly classier version that allows you to choose your vehicle type, up to a black car to get around town. They too offer a share for carpool options.
- Getaround: Getaround describes itself as peer-to-peer carsharing and rental. It’s an easy app that lets you share your own car instead of letting it sit idle in the garage. Similar to a carshare program, but with the added bonus of connecting with your neighbors with a range of cool cars. The app helps you find and unlock the cars easily, so you can get on your way quickly. Available in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Portland and Washington D.C.
- Sidecar: SideCar is on a mission to transform transportation by building a more affordable, accessible way to get where you’re going. They offer three services: Sidecar, a ride app that connects riders with everyday drivers in their personal vehicle; Shared Rides, a discounted instant carpooling app; and Sidecar Deliveries, which combines people and packages on the same route for the fastest, most affordable and innovative same-day delivery solution for retailers. It’s currently available in San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland/Bay Area, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Long Beach, and Charlotte, NC.
- Carma Carpooling: “Shared car seats means a faster, greener and more affordable commute,” says Carma. This adorable app lets users build a carpool in cities around the world. Carma differentiates itself as a carpooling app rather than ridesharing app, connecting riders and drivers headed the same direction. Riders pay $.20 per mile, standard, which means drivers don’t make a profit, but it does help offset costs, and let’s people commute with a clearer conscious. Currently available in Austin, Bergen (Norway), Cork (Ireland), and San Francisco.
- Carpooling.com: Europe’s most popular carpooling website, now available in the US. Carpooling connects drivers and passengers to share a ride, save costs, reduce carbon emissions and have meaningful experiences. Travelers can use the service via free mobile apps (iPhone and Android) and on the web.
- Rideshare: Carpooling and fleet solutions for offices and campuses! This relatively old company (35 years!) offers a variety of ride sharing options for commuters: An easy fleet program, hassle free long term and short-term lease program for transport and shuttle vehicles. Easy commute, a comprehensive web-based incentive program to help an organizations’ commuters save money and energy. And easy green carpools: full service, energy efficient, organized carpools.
- Your City: Check out your city and/or state department of transportation to learn about carpool options in your area. Find vanshare, rideshare, or other options to help build your commute with neighbors, or start your own car share program in your community. Here’s one example from San Mateo.
- Carpool – School Edition: Start, maintain and manage walk, bike and carpools to keep your children safe on their way to school. This website doesn’t seem as tech savvy as some of the others on this list, but provides parents and schools a great way to connect and share rides and walks. They can help you manage existing carpools too!
- Ridejoy: Ridejoy is similar to Lyft in that it is a community-supported ridesharing system. Simply post a ride offer or request, wait for another Ridejoy user to respond, then off you go. This is particularly helpful if you’re planning a road-trip and don’t have wheels of your own.
- Zimride: Now backed by Enterprise, Zimride helps you connect drivers and passengers or groups with stuff in common. Zimride is only available to universities and corporations, but offers a great way to connect with those in your immediate area to share rides.
- RideScout: Ridescout is an app the combines information about all available route options: bus, rail, bikeshare, car share, taxi, carpool, walking, biking, driving and parking. “We bring the entire transportation ecosystem together,” said RideScout CEO, Joseph Kopser. RideScout is available in dozens of cities across the country: find your location here. This is perfect for carpooling because you can see which options are best for your group in the moment!
- Craigslist: Find local rideshare postings to find rides offered and rides needed. A word of caution though: unlike most of these other apps which have a connected social platform and peer-to-peer rating so you can know who you’re riding with, Craigslist doesn’t offer anything of the sort, so be wise with your rides.
- Rydes: Rydes is a pre-scheduled and on demand transportation app for both iPhone and Android. Rydes lets you find the drivers you like and specifically request them, and allows you to order a ride ahead of time, something that some other apps are lacking, This means you can use Rydes to plan ahead for a carpool to work or for your after-work party. It’s easy to split the fare, and they have no price surges during peak hours.
- ZipCar: Though it’s not necessarily a carpooling or ridesharing app, ZipCar allows drivers from around the world to avoid the hassle of owning their own car. Simply search for a car, hop on over to unlock it with your ZipCar FOB, and you’re on your way to a day of errands, a night out, or a week away. You can use this to create your own super eco-carpools by setting them up on Carma and then using a ZipCar to get you there!