Empty Car Seats - Unused Resources in Urban Transportaion

By: Kent Basson

Snorre Laegran, an engineer with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, stated in 2001 that "[e]mpty seats are one of the most under-utilised resources in the urban transportation sector."? While many Americans prefer to commute alone to have a period of solitude, that solitude has become considerably more expensive with skyrocketing gasoline prices.? This has driven many Americans to consider carpooling.

There are dozens - if not hundreds - of websites that promise to serve as "matchmakers" for would-be carpoolers.? Some of the sites are intended only for the use of people in a single metropolitan area, while others offer their services nationally and even internationally.? How do the sites compare?

Most of the sites offer little more than a list of users with their origins, destinations, and schedules.? Because different users may identify the same area using various names (e.g., a subdivision or town; a particular business or the area where that business is located), searching can be difficult at best.?
Further, users new to an area may have to constantly refer to a map to determine how close they are to other commuters.? Finally, with such a carpool website, it is usually for a user difficult to determine which other users are the best matches with respect to both origin and destination.

Nuride.com is a carpool site that has been around since 2004 and offers one of the better systems for matching carpoolers.? However, searches for partners are limited to given radii of both a user's origin and destination, ignoring potential riders who may be located farther away, but who are on a driver's route.

MyCasualCarpool.com is a new site that helps daily commuters propose park and ride lots in places such as church parking lots, and determine the number of potential users based on information provided by other users.? Rather than forming carpools with set members, users either wait for rides or provide rides to those waiting at park and ride lots set up by users themselves.

RideshareOptimizer.com allows users to determine which carpool matches make most sense based on common schedules and routes.? Unlike sites that only search for other users within a given radius of each other, RideshareOptimizer.com matches drivers and riders based on the most efficient routes.? The site provides listings of compatible users ordered by how far out of the way a driver has to go to pick up and drop off each rider.? Not only is the website useful for finding carpool partners for daily commutes, but also for unique trips.

Car Parts
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Car Parts