match all of the people driving by themselves during rush hour so every car would have two to three commuters in it, leaving half the cars at home.
It is a sad fact that the majority of cars on the roads during rush hour have just one person in them. Ridesharing to date has a very lackluster track record. Americans are just too tied to their little slice of the American dream – which in most parts of the country includes driving to work by yourself in your own car.
Minnesota is investing heavily in managed lanes – toll lanes where carpoolers can drive for free. The first was I394, then I35W, and several more are being planned. If all of the interstate highways running through the Minneapolis/St. Paul area have managed lanes, there would be a massive incentive for commuters to figure out carpooling. It wouldn't be a silver bullet, but reducing peak traffic flows by a few percent is the difference between rush hour moving at 45 mph versus stop and go.
The Ridesharing Institute and the Transportation Research Board are holding a joint symposium on the topic in Oakland, CA on May 24th. A portion of the symposium will be a free two hour webinar. Details here.
p.s. Another crazy option – instead of the two seat small car that is as wide as a normal car (and takes up the same long following distance as a normal car), put the seats in line like a fighter jet cockpit. These 3 feet wide cars could get away with a lane that is roughly half as wide as the standard lane. We could squeeze in a lot of these lanes and shift folks to a commuter car. I know, good luck…..
We won’t even allow motorcycles to lane split in this state, so I’m guessing that having 3-foot wide cars would go over about as well.
I think the robo-car movement is the way to pursue for long term congestion relief. Automated stock-car-like drafting will triple capacity at least, and have fuel-efficiency advantages too. I’ve been a little surprised at the lack of intererst in the transportation planning/engineering community so far. Besides the safety and capacity advantages to the basic driving task, combining robo-cars with complimentary techs like car-sharing could have huge impacts on other fields like urban design.
Car pooling has been a topic for a long time, but with the obvious benefits I have yet to see an article dealing with the other pertinent issues:
1) How will liability be handled? Should I pay higher insurance rates if I routinely drive additional passengers? This subject can’t be ignored in our litigious society.
2) If I start car pooling with strangers, am I putting myself at greater personal risk with unknown people? People who I don’t know well who will know my work or vacation schedule, where I live, etc.
3) There is something inherently unfair about everyone paying the same tax burden yet only a privileged group being allowed to use certain assets paid for by all. People routinely complain about this when referring to congressional perks; adding another group in society isn’t the best idea.