Carpooling, car-sharing companies offer driving alternatives

Eighty-four percent of commuters who use a car to get to work say they drive alone, and more than half say it’s because carpooling is inconvenient, according to a recent survey on traffic issues conducted by major news organizations. But a company called NuRide is trying to change that. Its website hosts a directory of participating D.C.-area commuters and makes it simpler for folks heading in the same direction at the same time to arrange car pools. Meanwhile, car-sharing companies like Flexcar and Zipcar place vehicles throughout urban areas and allow members to reserve the nearest car for short trips. Says Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith, “Our members are savvy. They don’t need to own a car to enjoy mobility.” Now, big-city businesses are getting savvy too; Seattle engineering firm URS Corp. sold five of its fleet cars after joining Flexcar, and the company now saves $12,000 a year in parking fees alone. Flexcar user Joan Steelquist says the benefits extend beyond saving money: “[S]haring cars with others gives me the good feeling of being part of a community.”