February is the coldest month of the year and the best time to carpool with someone at the University of Waterloo. That's why joining Carpool Month can save you money, helps the environment, gives you a chance to power nap, and maybe even makes new friends. So what exactly does carpooling entail, and isn’t it just easier to drive on your own?
There's help out there to make it easier
In the debate of taking a new transportation mode, we often stick to what what's comfortable. Worrying that your carpool partner could be a heavy metal enthusiast who blasts their music at 90 decibels, or that you could get ‘that call’ from the principal when your kid threw at a rock at the window (again) might simply be a turn-off.
There are ways to get around this. TravelWise, for example, is a unique public-private partnership with the Region of Waterloo that works with organizations to support walking, cycling, transit, and of course carpooling. With the GoTravelWise online platform, you can find a carpool match close to you, whether it's for every day of the week or once a month. And if you end up with the heavy metal enthusiast, search for someone who likes jazz instead!
TravelWise also offers an Emergency Ride Home (ERH) Program for staff and faculty, so you won't be stuck on campus if you need to leave in a hurry.
So, who's all doing it?
A lot of people carpool on campus already. Almost 8% of UWaterloo’s employee and student trips to school are by carpooling. Among employees, it's closer to 15% who carpool or get dropped off. That's pretty close to the 16% of commuters in Waterloo region who carpool, and above the 13.6% nationally1. There's lots of people who make it work!
For some, it can be an easy way to save cash. When you add parking, gas, maintenance and depreciation, and insurance, owning a car is expensive (Estimates range from $9,000/year2 to $10,500/year3 to own and operate a vehicle in Canada, on average). So even small changes can help your wallet in a big way. Plus, with Ontarians having the longest commute time in Canada at an average of about 27.6 minutes1, it’s an easy way to socialize with others on their commute to work.
Don’t know where to begin?
During February, try carpooling to take advantage of Carpool Month challenges that are happening across the Region of Waterloo. It's as easy as registering to see what the options are around your home and work. After February, you can keep it up by checking out the different transportation services that are available at the University and around the Region.
1. Government of Canada. (2011). “2011 National Household Survey Highlights: Factsheet 5.” Available online at: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/economy/demographics/census/nhshi11-5.html. Accessed 13 February, 2017.
2. Trans Canada Carpool.ca. “What is carpooling?” Available online at: (http://www.carpool.ca/FAQ.aspx. Accessed 13 February, 2017.
3. Pembina Institute. (2012). "Behind the Wheel: Opportunities for Canadians to drive less, reduce pollution and save money." Available online at: http://www.pembina.org/reports/behind-the-wheel.pdf. Accessed 14 February, 2017.