A history of carpooling: The early 1900s to now

This content is sponsored by Commuter Connections- ‘Pool Rewards Program

The history of carpooling goes back almost as far as the invention of the automobile itself, and has endured well-beyond its heyday in the late 70’s. With traffic being as heavy as it is in the Washington, DC Metro area, carpooling is important and essential for many commuters. Carpooling is defined as an arrangement among a group of automobile owners by which each owner in turn drives the others or their children to and from a designated place. But how did carpooling start and how has it evolved over the years?

Slide 1 of 10: Carpooling and Ridesharing dates all the way back to 1914, when the US had fallen into a recession. Many car owners began offering seats in their cars. These cars were called a “jitney” and the “jitney” craze spread all across the country. While carpooling was becoming popular during this time, it also caused a lot of controversy. Many streetcar operators did not like this new competition and fought against it. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons  
Slide 2 of 10: Carpooling picked up again during World War II. In an effort to save money and conserve efforts for the war, the government put out an $8 million ad campaign organizing drivers to take passengers along with them. These were called “Car Clubs”. Many of the ads had interesting slogans and ads like the above image to get people to join these car clubs. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons  
Slide 3 of 10: While there is evidence that ridesharing and carpooling promotion took place during WWII, there is no exact information as to how many people this actually took off the roads at the time because there were no financial transactions that took place. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Slide 4 of 10: In the 1970’s, ridesharing and carpooling picked up again during the energy crisis. Throughout 1973, President Nixon’s administration realized that they would need to take action to reduce petroleum consumption and in 1974, he signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act. This act prohibited speeds higher then 55 miles per hour. Along with this act, the US government also began providing funding for rideshare initiatives. During this time, states began implementing HOV lanes. A local highway in Northern Virginia, the Shirley Memorial Highway became the first highway in the country to include HOV lanes. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Slide 5 of 10: After the 1973-1974 Oil Embargo, many ridesharing projects became funded by the federal government and the creation of the nation’s first metropolitan ridesharing agencies began. These organizations began using marketing campaigns to encourage ridesharing. Many of the marketing efforts included roadside signs and PSAs. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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Slide 6 of 10: In the 1970’s, President Carter would follow President Nixon’s lead and proposed many initiatives to further encourage ridesharing. In 1979, he appointed the National Task Force on Ridesharing. He also tried to eliminate subsidized parking for federal employees. While the 1970’s was some of the best years for ridesharing and many people had high hopes for the 1980’s, low oil prices and strong economic growth slowed down the ridesharing boom in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (NARA)
Slide 7 of 10: “Slugging” or known as casual carpooling is a very popular trend especially in the Washington, DC Area. Slugging often occurs on Interstates 95 and 395 between Washington, DC and Northern Virginia. Sluggers will wait in line to get picked up by a driver, often a stranger, thus enabling them all to take HOV lanes to their destination. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Slide 8 of 10:With the rise of mobile apps, ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft connect travelers with paid drivers through a secure financial transaction. Like other online marketplaces, the apps use community-based trust mechanisms such as driver-rating systems, to indicate passenger experience. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Slide 9 of 10: Carpooling and ridesharing does have its benefits. Carpooling can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year on gas, tolls and car maintenance. It also reduces stress and allows you to relax during your commute. Some carpooling efforts even pay you back, like the Council of Governments ‘Pool Rewards Program. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Slide 10 of 10: ‘Pool Rewards is a commuter incentive program available through Commuter Connections  to encourage commuters driving alone to and from work to start ridesharing in the Washington Metropolitan region. If you drive alone to work and get at least seven people together (including yourself) who wish to form a new vanpool, you may qualify for a $200 monthly ‘Pool Rewards incentive for your new vanpool. Vans are available to accommodate between 7 and 15 total occupants (including the driver). Commuters who currently drive alone to work may be eligible for a cash payment through ‘Pool Rewards when they start or join a new carpool! If eligible, each carpool member can earn $2 per day ($1 each way) for each day they carpool to work over a consecutive 90-day period. If your new carpool uses I-395 or I-66 outside the Beltway each carpooler could receive up to an additional $100. For more information and how to get started on the ‘Pool Rewards Program, learn more here. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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