037 · Offer rides on carpooling apps

If you have a fairly spacious and relatively new vehicle, you could easily recoup your costs, or even earn some extra money, by offering to take passengers on your trips. There are even apps entirely dedicated to this. So, how do you get started in carpooling? Let’s see it here.

What is carpooling?

Basically, carpooling is a very simple concept: Let’s imagine that you have to go from a point A to a point B with your vehicle, for example from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cut and Shoot, Texas (yes this city really exists). You will then look for several people who make the same trip or a part of it, who agree to come with you and to pay a part of the expenses. It’s even simpler than that since it’s the passengers who contact you directly via an application.

The advantage for you is that you recover part of the costs of your trips (fuel, tolls, car maintenance, etc.), and for the passenger it can be, depending on the case, a saving of time, a saving on a trip that would be more expensive by train or by plane, or sometimes even the only choice he or she has (e.g. no other (simple) way to connect these two points via public transport) .

Moreover, it’s a great way to meet other people and make the trip a little less boring, unless you run into taciturn passengers, which can happen sometimes. And it’s also more ecological, but we’ll talk about that later.

What about shorter trips?

Carpooling is mostly known for long distance trips, but this system also applies to the daily trips you make to get to your workplace. Whether it is colleagues that you pick up at home or who join you by public transport, a neighbor who works not far from where you go every day… the possibilities are also numerous, and there are even applications dedicated to these specific cases.

What type of vehicle should I use?

The ideal is to have a car or a mini-van that is comfortable and in good condition. It can be your car or your parents’ car, but the important thing is that it can easily accommodate your passengers (and their luggage) and can make the planned trip safely. So, if you have an old 1975 AMC Pacer that’s all banged up and has over 300,000 miles on the odometer, I’m afraid it won’t be possible (no, even if you like its vintage charm).

Never forget that you are responsible for the safety and comfort of your passengers! Riding in a “garbage can” will not only scare away potential passengers but also expose you to the risk of breakdowns, and maybe even accidents.

Can we make money with carpooling?

As I said in the introduction, carpooling allows above all the owner of the vehicle to reduce the cost of a more or less long trip (so no, it doesn’t work to go to the bistro located just two blocks away). To fix the price, one usually divides the approximate cost of the trip by the number of seats available in the vehicle. A trip that costs you 100$ should, therefore, cost around 25$ to each passenger, if your vehicle has 4 seats (note that I am not talking about countries where public transport is not very developed, or even non-existent, and where carpooling is, therefore, a real business).

But maybe you could find one or several ways to increase this price, which would allow you to generate a real financial profit? The idea is not stupid, and I am sure that some others are already doing it. I’ll suggest a few here, but I have no idea how effective they are (yes, I have no idea about ideas). By the way, if you have any others, feel free to share them with me, and I’ll add to this list (and delete the ones that are completely dumb (yes, because there are probably some)).

  • No or few alternatives: Between having to take 4 public transport connections or a carpooling option that is a bit more expensive but much simpler and faster, I think that the choice is quickly made.
  • Agree to make a detour to pick up your passengers and drop them off at the exact location where they need to go.
  • Your vehicle is out of the ordinary: a sports car, a vintage or luxury car, a limousine, a DeLorean that can travel through time…
  • Offer drinks, coffee, snacks or why not a picnic halfway.
  • Sell products (handmade or others) to your passengers.
  • Have screens on the headrests and show a movie, like in planes. Or offer the possibility to connect a smartphone or laptop via Bluetooth, USB, and HDMI.
  • Offer high speed Wi-Fi.
  • You have great ratings and rave reviews on the app. =)

Again, these are just ideas, so it’s up to you. Be inventive; there are definitely other ways to make money with carpooling.

Some people even carpool with their work vehicle. Their expenses are reimbursed by the company, so for them, it is a net profit. But well, this is not necessarily very ethical and even quite risky, so I leave you this responsibility.

And don’t forget that carpooling is first of all a way to help others. If you really want to earn more money, become a cab driver or an Uber driver instead.

Carpooling Applications

Here you’ll have the choice because they are numerous. I mean, it depends on the country where you live too. I propose some among the most known, but as usual, you can find others by launching a Google search on the keyword “carpooling” + the country or the region where you are located.

The way they work is quite simple and similar to each other. You start by creating an account, then you add some information about yourself (name, age, a short presentation of who you are, what vehicle you have, etc.), then you create an itinerary by indicating the time and place of departure and arrival, the amount you request, etc. All you have to do then is wait for the reservations.

There are several advantages to using an app instead of searching for companions yourself. For example, you will find more passengers via an app because they will come to you. In addition, all users (drivers and passengers) receive a rating or reviews left by other users, which is a good indication of how much you can trust them. Most apps take a fee for each ride, but it’s worth it when you compare it to the services they provide.

Conclusion

If you like to have company on the road, have a vehicle that is both comfortable and safe, and you like to be of service (and earn some money), carpooling is something you might want to consider. There are several apps that will make it easy for you to find passengers. Just make sure they are comfortable and safe (e.g. avoid downing a bottle of red just before you leave). Oh, and get good insurance—you never know what can happen on the road.

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Is carpooling ecological? It depends. If you buy a car specifically to earn money from it, or if the passengers decide to go with you instead of taking the train (and again, it depends on how the electricity that powers the lines is produced), or if your car consumes 30 liters of diesel every 100 km, then no, it is not really ecological. So, it’s hard to say, but we can say that overall carpooling reduces the density of road traffic, and that’s pretty positive.

If environmental impact is important to you (it’s great and the planet will thank you for it), here are some tips to follow: First, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle (or better yet, an electric vehicle) if you don’t have one or need to change. Secondly, adopt a rather calm driving style (no hard acceleration or speeding). This will save energy and keep your vehicle running longer. Finally, you can offset some of your carbon emissions by making a donation to certain associations such as carbonfund.org, purprojet.com or goodplanet.org, which, for example, plant trees, or help populations with the energy transition.

Pros

  • You are less alone on the road
  • Nice encounters in perspective
  • You are doing a service

Cons

  • You won’t become a billionaire with this idea (neither millionaire, nor “thousandaire” either)
  • Traffic jams are not cool
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

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