Cruising Along is an ongoing weekly blog series by Bianca Sewake examining Hawai‘i’s alternative modes of transportation.
Rounding up a carpool group was never a problem for me. There were always friends in the neighborhood to coordinate rides with growing up and even, luckily, when I got my first job. Often, setting up a carpool system within groups of families or friends is the easiest way to go. Such is the case for Landon Kaya, an engineering student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who carpools everyday from Aiea to Honolulu with his sister. “I’ve been carpooling with my sister for four years now,” said Kaya. Depending on his sister’s work schedule, Kaya and his sister wake up around 5:30 or 6:30 a.m. each morning to make the commute to town.
Besides spending less money on gas using one car and being able to use the HOV lane, which is usually faster according to Kaya, he found another benefit. He said, “We decided that my sister is more of a morning person. She would drive us into town and I would have to drive us back home … Since my sister drives in the morning, I get to sleep a little bit more in the car.”
In the afternoons, Kaya is flexible with his schedule and usually is working on campus or studying for his classes until his sister finishes work. The only suggestion Kaya had is that he feels there should be more encouragement for people to carpool. “It will significantly lower the amount of cars on Hawaii’s roads and thus decrease the traffic,” he said.
So, first step? Ask around! However, it’s not always that easy. That’s why the Department of Transportation offers assistance for people looking to carpool with others through a rideshare match system. Similar rideshare services are offered from the Leeward Oahu Transportation Management Association. For students at UH Manoa, there’s a vanpool service and for other students, there’s the It’s Cool to School Pool service.
Although these methods are available, people are joining in on other rideshare services such as Carpool World or vRide. Scrolling through some of the ads, I saw people around the island who were looking for rides. They were mostly students and workers. One person who lived in Ewa was reaching out to someone because her car broke down and is in the process of repairs, and the closest bus stop is a long walk from her house. People can even find a carpool buddy on Craigslist. I read ads about people who needed to get to internships or work, saying upfront that they will split the costs.
There are many reasons people choose to carpool and many services out there to set up groups. Perhaps if more people were aware and made use of these services, there would be less single occupancy cars on the road (in 2012, the U.S. Census estimated that 437,154 workers commuted solo and 102,542 carpooled) and Kaya’s hope for less cars and therefore decreased traffic will be. If you’re new to carpooling or plan on using the rideshare services with strangers, Hawai’i Department of Transportation actually came up with a helpful guide that recommends things like meeting your prospective carpoolers before committing and determining a method of reimbursing expenses. Check it out here for a few things to consider.