The nuisance of traffic congestions is at an all-time high in cities.
As per U.S Census Bureau data, in 2016 Americans spent an average of 26.1 minutes to travel to work and the same amount of time to return home, five days a week.
That adds up to over four and a half hours per week, and over nine full days in a year. The average commute time has been on the rise, which means a large number of commuters are in fact spending a lot more than 26 minutes every day to reach work.
What’s equally worrisome is that a mere 5.1% of the workers in America use public transportation, except in metro areas where the percentage is expectedly higher.
This results in a disproportionately high number of passenger vehicles (the majority of them with just a single passenger in the car) out on the roads.
However, it must be said that outside the metro areas availing public transport can be a hassle in itself due to frequency issues and the general paucity of options.
Carpooling reduces the number of vehicles on the road, saves fuel, and turns the commute into something more than a boring chore.
About iCarpool | How the Flexible. Instant. Social. App Works
iCarpool is a carpooling app that helps you connect with drivers headed in the same direction as you. It is based in Seattle, Washington, and currently serves the Greater Seattle area.
In case of traditional carpooling, you need to assemble a group of colleagues from your place of work or possibly a group of neighbors and decide on a fixed time to leave in the morning as well as when you will return in the evening.
iCarpool negates all of that as the engagement is on a per trip basis — there’s no need to get a monthly subscription plan or make any lengthy commitments.
Unlike ride-hailing services, iCarpool’s share-the-expense model makes the trips significantly cheaper.
The driver receives a small fee from each individual rider (starting from $1.50 per trip), which goes towards reimbursing the driver’s cost of the trip.
A win-win outcome for both rider and driver. The driver fee is decided based on reimbursement rates fixed by the IRS and there’s a cap on the maximum fee the driver can collect for a trip.
What this means is that the driver is only allowed to recover a portion of the cost for the trip and not make a profit.
This is so because the driver is in any case traveling in that direction and along the way picks up and drops off riders.
What this also means is that the rider is required to meet the driver at a pickup point, in contrast to ride-hailing services where the passenger is picked up from their location.
How It Works
Using the app is very simple:
- Trip Details: Firstly, enter your trip details, i.e., destination and time of your morning commute and similarly for your evening commute. You can choose to use the iCarpool service for both trips on a day or only one. It’s totally up to you. However, remember to enter the details at least an hour before you actually need to leave.
- Matches: Next the app will throw up matching carpools originating in your area with pickup locations and time. You can select the one that suits you the best. In case there aren’t any matching carpools, the app will store your search and notify you when a match comes up.
- Book Ride: Once you book your ride you’ll receive a boarding pass on the app.
- Begin Trip: Reach the pickup location in advance and show the boarding pass before starting the trip.
Why Should You Become an iCarpool Driver?
The cost of maintaining a car and fuel expenses have increased manifold over the past decade. Additionally, driving to and from work can be a boring, energy-sapping experience.
Signing up as a driver with iCarpool allows you to proverbially kill two birds with one stone.
A part of your expenses are offset by offering the empty seats in your car to fellow commuters, and at the same time allows you to meet new people and fill up the boring commute with conversations.
You don’t need to make a detour. The route you take to work everyday stays the same. Along the way you pick up and drop off commuters looking for a ride and pocket some cash.
Oh, and vehicles engaged in carpools are allowed on the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane, which makes the trip that much more hassle-free.
What makes iCarpool more appealing is that you don’t need to offer rides every day or be burdened by a fixed schedule.
It’s up to you when you choose to open up your car to other commuters or not.
So, if you have an important meeting or presentation at work and need to stay focused on the way to work, you can choose to not offer rides.
You don’t have to worry about billing either. The app does that for you. The riders are charged a fee and a portion of that is transferred to you automatically.
What’s the Process to Become an iCarpool Driver?
You need to install the app and sign up. Make sure you add a photo of yourself and include the name of your employer in the profile.
Once this is done, then you can fill out the driver application form.
You’ll be required to enter both personal details as well as details about your vehicle. You’ll also be required to submit your DMV record and a couple of photos of your car to email@example.com.
Once your application is approved you can start offering rides.
Key Driver Requirements
- Your driver license must have been valid for the last 12 months.
- The car must be clean and properly maintained.
- Any more than two violations or accidents in the past three years will disqualify you.
Check out the other driver requirements.
If you have any further queries or doubts, check the FAQ section for drivers.
How to Offer Rides?
- Be Proactive: In case you choose to offer trips in the morning, open it up on the previous night. Similarly, for evening commutes, open up the trip in the afternoon. Opening up the trip allows it to be visible to riders.
- Do Your Research: Peruse the list of booked trips and the riders to ascertain the pickup points.
- Track Your Rides: On reaching the pickup location, check the rider’s boarding pass and subsequently mark it on the app. Similarly, on reaching the drop-off point mark it on the app.
- Relax: Follow the last step and you don’t need to worry about the payments as they’re taken care of by the app.
Carpooling Is the Future
Several experts have said that long commutes are linked to health issues such as depression, putting on weight and stress.
A study conducted in 2014, also found that long commutes lead to a reduction of lifespan in women, though the effects on men were comparably lower.
If those aren’t reason enough to carpool, consider how much it reduces traffic and vehicular pollution, making it the ideal way forward.
We need to embrace it.
With iCarpool, you can easily take advantage of the benefits of carpooling, making money along the way.