In a Nutshell

Carpooling, also known as ride-sharing and car-sharing, is the act of sharing a vehicle so that more than one person travels in the vehicle at a particular time. Carpooling reduces air pollution, energy use, toll expenses and stresses of driving. Vehicular wear and tear can also be reduced since the car will not be traveling as much as it would if the driver did not carpool.

Practical Solution

The “How To”The “How To”

Carpool Basics

The most common way carpooling begins is through shared activities or experiences. Coworkers who live close to one another and friends who have children involved in many of the same activities are the frequent starting points of many carpooling agreements. College students, high school students, and parents of students who are too young to drive frequently carpool to and from school in order to save money on gas, save money on parking, decrease the environmental impact, and promote friendships.

If starting your own carpool, a shared desire to carpool is the necessary first step in attracting others to join. You can post notices in the break room at work, ask other parents at your child's school, send out an email, post a notice at church, or advertise through your neighborhood association, for example. Carpooling requires coordination, cooperation, and flexibility and might be best first implemented on a trial basis.

Carpooling Services

Carpooling does not have to be done by the individual and there are carpooling services available throughout the St. Louis region. Several organizations offer ridematching services where people looking for a ride or riders can input their information and the organization will match you with a carpool or vanpool that might work for you. Several carpooling service options are listed within the Discover More tab.

Things to Consider

When using a carpooling service or starting your own at work, it is best to remember that it is not necessarily a permanent solution. Typically if the carpool is not working for you, you can decline to continue using it. Carpooling is flexible so do not be afraid to schedule doctor appointments, errands, and other responsibilities in fear of breaking the carpool. Lastly, carpool etiquette should not be ignored. Offering money to the driver, remaining seated and unobstructive to the driver, listening to your individually desired music through headphones, and respecting the driver's vehicle are all potential ways of keeping a high level of etiquette while riding.

Other basic rules of the carpool need to be established, as well. Smoking, eating, drinking, talking, and the radio station can all be decided before the carpool begins. Time for pickup and dropoff can also be decided upon but it is necessary to remember potential traffic and construction delays.

Planning & ZoningPlanning & Zoning

Parking Preferences

One of the easiest ways to promote ridesharing is to create or designate preferential parking spaces for people who choose to engage in carpooling or vanpooling. Erecting a sign at a certain amount of specific parking spots designating them for carpooling only can promote individuals to form carpools if the parking spaces are ideal. Hangtags that are placed on the rear-view mirror of a carpool vehicle can serve to indicate that the particular vehicle is allowed to park in the space.

Financial Incentive Programs

Besides parking preferences, another policy organizations can utilize to promote ridesharing may include pre-tax subsidies. Organizations can provide employees with a pre-tax subsidy or allow them to use pre-tax wages strictly for vanpooling.

Carpool Lanes

Governmental bodies can promote carpooling by designating specific carpool lanes on major thoroughfares throughout their community. Often found in the furthest left lanes, carpool lanes can offer a smoother commute with less traffic to those vehicles carrying more than one person. Enforcement would be necessary but if drivers know they will have a smoother, easier ride by carpooling, there may be increased use.

Liability to Employers

Section 285.200 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and 625 ILCS 5/10-202 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes remove liability from employers for those employees who choose to participate in a rideshare, vanpool, or carpool activity. In other words, if a vanpool gets into an accident on the way to work, the employer is not liable.

Dollars & CentsDollars & Cents

Costs of Individual Carpool

According to the Mid-America Regional Council, the average cost a non-driver should pay in a carpool is $0.18 per mile. For a small sedan, the cost per mile is $0.15, for a medium sedan the cost per mile is $0.18, and for a large sedan, the cost per mile is $0.20. These figures are found using gas, maintenance, and tire costs broken down per mile. The entire table can be seen by clicking the link and it is necessary to note that the costs did not include fees or tolls and the gas amounts were calculated using an average price of $2.88 per gallon.

If drivers are taking turns driving, typically the riders do not pay anything as there is distribution of gas, maintenance, and parking costs within the carpool. Cost calculations typically apply when one driver always drives and the riders are offsetting the total cost to the driver. Each carpool is different, however, and there is not one clear method of how the cost is determined.

According to Commute Connection, the yearly cost of driving a medium sedan 50 miles round trip by yourself is roughly $7,700. If you increase your capacity to three riders, this cost decreses to roughly $2,600 per rider. This example shows that carpooling has tremendous potential to greatly reduce individual travel costs.

Costs of Using a Carpool Service

The RideFinders Vanpool Program provides a free ridematching service to help commuters rideshare to and from work in a RideFinders van. The Vanpool Program offers a chart that displays the cost per rider depending on how many people are in the van and the distance of the commute. For example, if there were seven riders, not counting the primary driver, and the average daily rountrip was 50 miles, each rider would pay $125 per month. If the number of riders increases to eleven, that amount drops to only $74 per month.

Enterprise Rideshare also offers vanpooling options. Different from RideFinders, Enterprise will lease a van to your vanpool for a total amount per month. For example, leasing an 11-passenger van for a daily round-trip commute of 50 miles will cost roughly $1,600 per month. A 15-passenger van for the same commute will decrease the cost per month to roughly $1,500.

Measuring SuccessMeasuring Success

Carpooling programs and advocacy are best defined by how many people choose to participate in ridesharing activities. The greater the number of people who carpool, the lower the number of vehicles on the road, emissions in the atmosphere, money spent on fuel, and money spent on infrastructure improvements.

State/Federal Carpool Statistics

According to the 2012 American Community Survey produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 141 million people aged 16 years and older commute to work. Of that 141 million, roughly 13.7 million people, or 9.7 percent, participate in a carpool. About 10.6 million people participate in a 2-person carpool, 1.8 million participate in a 3-person carpool, 675,000 participate in a 4-person carpool, 339,000 participate in a 5 or 6-person carpool, and 283,000 participate in a 7-or-more person carpool.

In comparison, about 107.5 million people drove to work alone.

Local Carpool Statistics

According to, 12 percent of the workers in the St. Louis area carpool while 70 percent of the workers drive alone.

According to the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership, 5.3 million of the 7.2 million vehicular trips St. Louisans make each day are single-occupancy trips. In addition, one person riding in a carpool or vanpool can save the environment 225 pounds of emissions every year. Lastly, the Partnership reports that the average commuter can save about $3,500 per year by ridesharing to work.

In 2010, the Suburban Journals reported that 9,800 people in the St. Louis region pool to work through RideFinders.

According to the Director of RideFinders, Joseph Wright, as of October 7th 2013, RideFinders has 3,313 registered carpools transporting 7,356 carpoolers.

Future Goals and Success

Although slightly higher than the national average, the number of people who rideshare to work in the St. Louis region is still very low. Advocacy and information needs to continue to be dispersed throughout the region. Workers within the St. Louis region love their cars and the only way more people are going to carpool is if the information is readily available, the workers are interested in carpooling, and organizations like RideFinders and Enterprise Rideshare continue to exist.

Fortunately, it has become very easy to calculate and keep track of national statistics regarding ridesharing thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau. Unfortunately, however, the regional information is more difficult to find. In any event, advocacy and information regarding ridesharing is dispersed well through word of mouth and the provided internet resources.

Case StudiesCase Studies

Graybar Preferencial Parking for Carpools

  • Contact

    Christopher Laughman
    Corporate Facilities Manager
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    Graybar implanted a number of strategies at its Centerpoint Facility in 2011 aimed at improving the facility’s sustainability. Among these strategies was an effort to reduce the number of cars parked at the facility by encouraging carpool participation in RideFinders. As a component of this strategy, Graybar implemented a preferential parking program for employees who carpooled to work. Utilizing free parking signs and vehicle hang tags provided by RideFinders, Graybar established parking spots near the front of the building for employees who registered a carpool, with RideFinders. This resulted in a 111% increase in Graybar’s employee participation in RideFinders. More employees carpooling significantly reduced the number of vehicles and driving miles by employees, which resulted in less traffic congestion and improved air pollution at Graybar and for the St. Louis region.


    There was no cost associated with this program as RideFinders provided the preferential parking signs and vehicle signs to Graybar for free.

    Lessons Learned

    Designating preferential parking for carpools at the front of the worksite is a free and simple, yet effective way for employers to increase carpool participation. The more incentives an employer offers its employees to carpool, the more employees will carpool.

RideFinders Rideshare Program

  • Contact

    Joseph Wright
    Director of RideFinders
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    One Transit Way - P.O. Box 7500 - Granite City, IL 62040-7500


    RideFinders is the St. Louis regional rideshare program that is required as part of the region’s transportation program to improve air quality to help attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Created by Madison County Transit (MCT) in 1994, RideFinders provides various marketing and outreach services to help individuals carpool, vanpool or take public transit to work or school instead of driving alone – reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. RideFinders is operated by MCT as a free marketing and outreach public service using 100 percent federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funding, with 80 percent from Missouri and 20 percent from Illinois. Individuals must commute to, from, within or through the region shown to be eligible for RideFinders services.

    RideFinders is located at the Madison County Transit (MCT) headquarters at One Transit Way; P.O. Box 7500; Granite City, Ill. 62040-7500, and receives ongoing financial, technical, planning, marketing and supervisory support from MCT staff. RideFinders provides a toll-free phone number, 800-VIP-RIDE (800-847-7433), to assist commuters Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. RideFinders also utilizes customized RidePro ridematching software to help commuters rideshare, online RidePro matching software to help parents Schoolpool and various programs created by MCT for administering the vanpool program.


    RideFinders provides a free ridematching service for commuters to help them find other commuters to rideshare with and free taxi rides home for ridesharing commuters to provide peace of mind knowing they have a ride home. RideFinders also provides a vanpool program for large groups of commuters to share the ride the ride to work in RideFinders vans for a monthly fare that varies from as low as $58 to as much as $487 per person, with the typical fare around $100 – 125 per person. These monthly fares cover 100% of the monthly operating costs.

    Lessons Learned

    Unlike public transit which is the only transportation available for many individuals, ridesharing is only a transportation option for most commuters that is far less attractive than driving alone. Our region also does not have terrible traffic congestion nor dedicated traffic lanes for carpools/vanpools, which makes ridesharing not any faster than driving alone. Also, our region’s low gas prices and abundant free or low-cost parking do not make ridesharing significantly lower cost than driving alone, at least in direct costs that impact commuters. The key is to create awareness, interest and motivation for commuters to at least try ridesharing, as generally this results in commuters continuing to rideshare once they realize ridesharing offers financial, environmental and personal benefits.

Discover MoreDiscover More

Commute Solutions offers information regarding frequenty asked questions about carpooling.

The Missouri Department of Transportation offers links to Missouri's ridesharing websites.

RideFinders is a St. Louis regional organization which provides several resources and options available to people looking for ridesharing options. They offer a free ridematching service to carpoolers, vanpoolers, and K-12 parents looking for a schoolpool. They also offer a Guaranteed Ride Home service and other useful information.

Enterprise Rideshare also offers opportunities and resources to individuals seeking a carpool or vanpool, and groups of people desiring the same thing. The website offers information regarding how to set up a vanpool, how to use the federal Transportation Incentive Program subsidy, and other useful information.

Section 132(f) of the Internal Revenue Service Code offers Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits to commuters for their use of carpooling practices. In 2013, commuters can exclude up to $245 per month in transit benefits. These Qualified Transportation Benefits are excluded from an employee's gross income for income tax purposes and are excluded from an employee's wages for payroll tax purposes.