Report of Carpooling’s Death Greatly Exaggerated

We were saddened this week to learn that The New York Times has declared carpooling dead.  The article describes a national trend that the vital signs for carpooling, once thriving in the 70's during the oil crisis, have been declining over the past 30 years -- and now a once-popular solution to combating fuel prices and traffic has passed away. 

According to the Times, carpooling is survived by its distant cousin, slugging.

The Clean Air Campaign, along with metro Atlanta carpoolers, read the obituary.  But we didn’t get the memo.

Reports about the death of carpooling are greatly exaggerated.  In fact, the American Community Survey shows metro Atlanta carpool numbers have held rather steady over the past decade:

Year

% Atlanta Commuters Who Carpool

2002

10.3

2003

11.1

2004

10.7

2005

10.7

2006

11.3

2007

10.4

2008

11.3

2009

10.5

Looking at the national picture, remember that carpooling first appeared as a data point on the census in 1980, when the aftereffects of the oil crisis were still raging.  And it’s not surprising that carpool numbers went down from 1980 to 1990 as oil prices stabilized.  In spite of this, Atlanta ranks among the top 10 U.S. cities for carpooling based on 2000 census figures.    

Georgia – particularly Atlanta – is better positioned than many other areas of the U.S. to make carpooling attractive to commuters and employers because of programs like:

  • Guaranteed Ride Home – when carpoolers and other users of commute alternatives need to get home because of an unexpected event – or have to work late – RideSmart and The Clean Air Campaign can arrange a free ride home.
  • Ridematching Assistance – there’s a database of 50,000 Georgia commuters seeking carpool partners, vanpool partners and bike buddies.  Chances are, many of them may live and work near you.
  • Carpool Rewards – carpools of three or more can earn $40-$60 in monthly gas cards from The Clean Air Campaign.

It could also be argued that Atlanta's limited transit footprint makes it more likely for commuters to opt for carpooling if they're motivated to do something other than drive alone and have the means. 

So we say to those grieving over the death of carpooling, before you pull the hearse around front, be sure to hold Atlanta out of the funeral procession.




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