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Sharing Excellence in Parking & Mobility Management

Carpooling: Rules of the Road, Part 9 Finale

If you’ve already read this introduction, swipe down to #9 below.

Mobility managers are often tasked to facilitate and manage carpools. Carpools are an integral of a TDM strategy to reduce traffic congestion and parking demand. There are many societal, organizational and personal benefits to carpools, which we will cover elsewhere.

This series will discuss different aspects of running a successful program that maximizes the participants’ satisfaction and minimizes the negatives sometimes associated with the experience. We will focus our attention on the carpool itself, from the time the carpool begins each day, to the time it ends.

Feel free to forward this post link or copy and paste our text into your circulars to your carpoolers (with attribution, please: “Courtesy of the H2H2H Foundation at www.h2h2h.org.”)

Rules of the Road

Carpool program members need to make some basic decisions about how the carpool will operate on a day-to-day basis. Agreement on these points is critical to long term success of each carpool and the satisfaction of the participants. Carpool members often bail out because these details – these “Rules of the Road” – haven’t been agreed-upon in advance. When enough members quit, the carpool collapses.

It’s better if mobility managers don’t mandate Rules of the Road for the entire program, but rather, present them as decision points for each pool. A program with numerous pools can have widely varying sets of self-imposed rules; it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience.

We do offer our “recommendations” as we proceed, however. Since carpooling is an “experience”, let’s break these up these considerations into the way we experience anything: through our perceptions and senses.

No Sensory Overloads

Here’s the scene: A carpool places several people in close proximity to each other, certainly an immediate violation of most people’s personal space. Carpool participants may not know each other well – or at all. All are locked in a small, containerized metal box (car) for up to two hours during the commute. Their freedom of movement is extremely limited. Each participant brings to the carpool their concerns for the day left behind at home and the workday ahead.

Since humans are societal animals, senses and perception are heightened under these conditions. Everyone is on edge, not necessarily in a disturbed or negative way, but in a manner that could become so. Since the senses are on high alert, far less stimulus is required to agitate an individual or the group. Finally, let’s remember that many of us are not at our best first thing in the morning or after a hard day of work.

Therefore, we’re not suggesting sensory deprivation here, but rather, sensory conservation. The point: Let’s not overstimulate everyone.

1. Time – covered in Part 1.

2. Temperature – covered in Part 2.

3. Balance – covered in Part 3.

4. Hearing – covered in Part 4.

5. Tasting – covered in Part 5.

6. Touching – covered in Part 6.

7. Seeing – covered in Part 7.

8. Smelling – covered in Part 8.

9. Satisfaction – In conclusion for this series, we address the sense of satisfaction or contentment. Perhaps this is not a “sense” in the way we refer to the sensory inputs that we’ve previously discussed, such as hearing, sight, taste, smell or touch. Satisfaction is not a physiological reaction, such as we’ve seen with balance, time or temperature.

Satisfaction is a perception that one has participated in a positive experience. It reinforces and brands that experience. Satisfaction is also a vindication of a decision, in this case, to abandon a Single Occupant Vehicle and join a carpool. To feel a sense of satisfaction, core assumptions must be confirmed, hopes achieved, fears allayed and concerns dismissed.

For a carpool to be successful, it should decrease travel stress and decrease commuting expense for the participants. It also should benefit the environment and lessen traffic congestion. And perhaps participants make a new friend or two. Maybe there are other benefits, too.

A recommended Rule of the Road: Mobility managers should always perform after-action reviews of their transportation outreaches, such as implementing a carpool program. A wise adage is: Measure what you manage.

It’s important to understand why ride sharers participated (e.g., was it to preserve the environment, save money, reduce stress, etc.?) It’s equally vital to learn how the carpool experience did or did not meet their expectations, how it might be improved and to share successes and failures.

Participant surveys can not only help you direct a successful program but help educate ride-sharers in how to improve their own experience, or the experience of their peers.

Now, what did we miss? Please let us know in your comments below.

Hop these links to our Carpooling “Rules of the Road” series:

Part 1 – Time

Part 2 – Temperature

Part 3 – Balance

Part 4 – Hearing

Part 5 – Tasting

Part 6 – Touching

Part 7 – Seeing

Part 8 – Smelling

Part 9 – Satisfaction

(Want more information? Please check out our forums. If you have comments or suggestions, please share your experiences and ideas with us and other professionals visiting our site. Add your comments below – if Comments are “on” – or by contacting us directly here. Our How-2 series are written by mobility management professionals for mobility management professionals. Thank you for helping H2 become the how-to resource in public and private transportation management.)

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