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Saving money on transport costs is big news in 2016. With rail fares going up by 1.9% next year and many forecasting petrol price rises after Brexit, it’s getting increasingly harder to cut travel costs. Commuting by car share is one of those ‘vintage’ ideas that suddenly looks like a great solution. In fact, even Uber is doing it – offering its ‘Uber Pool’ service where you can car share every time you take a taxi. Setting up a car share for your daily commute could enable you to cut your annual transport costs in half. Experts estimate that you could save around £900 – £1,500 a year on transport by commuting via car share. Not only that but you might meet some interesting people too. So, how do you do it?
If you have a group of friends you work with and you all live relatively close to one another then a car share is a logical idea. Take turns to do the driving or come to an agreement on costs if only one of you has a car. It’s a good idea to do a trial run to make sure that the route (and the estimated costs) work for everyone involved. If there are no cars within your group then it might even be worth considering hiring and sharing the cost. Car services like Zipcar make it very simple and cheap to do a single journey (from £5 an hour). As long as the pick up and drop off points work for your location then you could hire each day and save.
Everyone is looking for ways to cut commuting costs right now. Asking around at work might generate a much more enthusiastic and positive response than you could have anticipated, so put some feelers out. Some offices have already established a car share system that matches those who live in the same area but if not then this is relatively easy to set up. Send out an email to find out who the interested parties are and ask for postcodes. Create suggested groups of four or five and then leave the rest to your colleagues to sort out for themselves.
There are plenty of car share passenger matching services you can use now if you don’t have friends or colleagues who want to car share. Sites such as liftshare.com help you to find other people travelling in the same direction and match you with them to split transport costs. Most sites like this simply ask you to register and input your regular journey route and then share it to locate others in your area. Find a website that doesn’t charge a fee for this (there are plenty) and you can start saving from the next working day. The great advantage of using a third party car-sharing scheme is that you don’t have to do any of the organisation or administration yourself. Everything is carried out by the scheme and all you have to do is get in the car.
Obviously, the most important benefit for most people is the fact that you will save money. If you’re travelling by public transport then you won’t have to pay rail or bus fares – or worry about those costs as they continue to rise. If you’re currently commuting in your own car then you can alleviate the pressure of petrol costs. You’ll also be able to reduce maintenance, as you’ll be driving the car less – which should also result in a car that lasts longer.
Financial benefits aren’t the only advantages of getting involved with car share commuting. Fewer cars on the road also means less damage to the environment. 80 – 90% of the environmental impact of a car is due to its fuel consumption and emissions. By driving your car less you’ll be lessening the effect that you have on the natural world just to get to work.
Car sharing schemes also have a social impact. You can meet people you never knew worked in the same building as you and you’ll have company on your drive to work. Car sharing with others in the office can make it easier for them financially too. There are all round benefits for everyone in making our commutes less lonely and less expensive. Whether you’re looking for cost savings or interesting people, this is a great alternative to the traditional commute.
No there’s no need for anyone to sing! But if you do see Chris Martin at the side of the road thumbing for a lift do stop for him.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read about Alex Hartley
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