This post is a continuation of an email thread about technology-based solutions to increasing carpooling.
I haven’t spent a lot of time researching existing rideshare companies, but beyond employing technology to make ridesharing more efficient and simple I think you have to address the other barriers to adoption. Some of the biggies are safety and personal comfort. In one of our many brainstorming conversations, Kirsten brought up the possibility of creating an online rideshare community that would match users not just on their locations and times but also on their personal profile, just like the dating sites do: Single moms can hook up with other single moms; people with the same musical or talk radio tastes, etc. The community piece could be a very powerful incentive, if done right. I’m not sure this is something we should try to build into the http://www.climatechangers.org online community, but we would certainly be keen on partnering with a website that did something like this well.
In terms of the corporate incentives that Fruchterman brought up: I think that tax incentives could do a lot. A number of communities are already doing this kind of thing and the Federal Government provides some incentives, as well, though these seem only to be for 7+ person vans. I can’t remember where I read this, but I know that some European communities have implemented steep parking fees in cities to minimize driving to work.
I think a combination of employer benefits, employee benefits, a reliable technology like Poool, and a community-minded approach to connecting carpoolers could be powerful.