Win the Workweek: 7 of the Coolest Ways to Commute
BY JEFFREY TANENHAUS
Startups are driving a revolution in commuting, making it easier, cheaper, and more social to get to work. Some platforms target co-workers or parents, others connect strangers going the same way. Upgrade your commute with these carpool options. (We’ll leave the karaoke up to you.)
Get the perks of car ownership—without the commitment—through Zipcar.
Live in the city but need your own wheels to get to work? Car ownership is costly, but owning the commute isn’t, thanks to Zipcar Commuter. Feel like a boss with your own personal car and parking space from Monday morning through Friday evening—all for a flat monthly rate, plus cost per mile driven. (Gas, insurance, and maintenance are included, as with all Zipcar reservations.) As long as the vehicle is back in its home spot by 7 pm Friday, you’re free to spend weekdays and nights cruising wherever your wheels take you.
What do you get when you blend public and private transportation, in a way that’s more efficient and similarly priced to mass transit? The answer is Via. This ride-matching service operates in Chicago, D.C., and NYC. Users input their pickup and drop-off destinations into the app, and the all-knowing algorithm matches them to an SUV that aligns with their route. Vehicles regularly traverse in-demand corridors not served by mass transit, fielding new requests and picking up passengers going in the same direction. Weekly and monthly ViaPasses are available for frequent users.
The WazeCarpool app allows for cheaper and convenient ridesharing. Image Courtesy of Waze.
Best known as a crowdsourced navigation app to alert you to congestion, crashes, and cop cars, Waze has waded into the carpooling lane by connecting drivers and riders with similar home and work addresses. The result makes commuting cheaper and more efficient. Riders chip in for gas and vehicle depreciation at a rate based on distance. Payment is made automatically, so there’s no awkward exchange of quarters and crumpled bills at drop-off. Owned by Google, Waze Carpool is currently available in California and Texas.
Similar to Waze, this startup connects Bay Area denizens who live and work near one another. Riders cover a share of the driver’s expense based on distance and route; the amount is quoted before you commit. Scoop’s reliability pledge includes a Guaranteed Ride Home that reimburses riders for alternative transport home if they Scooped into work that morning and can’t get matched going back.
SPLT makes inter-corporation carpooling even easier. Image Courtesy of SPLT.
Instead of neighbors and strangers, with SPLT you’ll be riding with colleagues—who may in fact be strangers because they work in a different department. Geared for large employers, SPLT partners with enterprises, higher education, and municipal governments to provide affordable, reliable carpools that boost inter-corporate networking and productivity. It even branched out to non-emergency medical transport. Based in Michigan, SPLT operates in Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, NYC, and San Francisco.
You’re not the only one who needs to get around. Your little ones do, too! Likeminded parents can set up carpooling networks for the kiddos on the free GoKid mobile and desktop platform, available worldwide. Automated notifications and live tracking let you know when your precious cargo is collected and where it’s headed—to school, sports games, or social activities. The chauffeurs aren’t strangers; you invite those you know and trust to join and divvy up driving duties.
Not in a city covered by these startups? Your municipal, school, or state transportation department may already have solutions, such as vanpool. And for longer road trips, check Share Your Ride, Rdvouz, and that old standby, Craigslist.