Commuters turn to carpooling to cut costs
18 April 2011
As petrol prices continue to hit commuters in the wallet, more people are taking to other transport options such as carpooling to cut spiralling costs.
As a result, carpooling schemes in key commercial centres across Auckland are helping to reduce congestion, lower commuter travel costs and improve staff wellbeing and productivity.
New website-based schemes enable commuters to decide who they travel with, how often they carpool and let them know who lives nearby to find a good carpooling buddy. Auckland Transport provides companies with all the information needed to encourage staff to sign up including registration forms and promotional materials, as well as advice on competitions to incentivise staff.
Auckland International Airport runs the 'Lift' carpooling scheme that has 950 registered members and has just celebrated its fourth birthday. It is one of the longest running schemes in the Auckland region.
Sustainability advisor Martin Fryer says that more than 12,000 people work at the airport every day and carpooling has enabled many of them to reduce their travel costs and have a more enjoyable trip with their co-workers. “What's more, carpooling gives us the opportunity to spread the message about sustainable transport to companies throughout the airport area," he says.
Sujit Shetty, an Emirates employee at Auckland International Airport says; “I car pool with three other staff members from Emirates. We all live close together and use the same route to the airport, so none of us has to go out of the way to pick the other members up. We carpool pretty almost every day of the week as it fits in well with our rosters.
“Financially it's a very good option as it saves us quite a bit of money reducing our transport costs and the Airport Company gives priority parking close to the terminal for car poolers.
“We are also doing our bit for the environment by keeping couple of cars off the road by reducing traffic and carbon emissions.
The 'Carpool Now' scheme adopted by the North Harbour Business Association is not only good for commuters, but good for business, says general manager Janine Brinsdon. North Harbour Industrial Estate is home to 1,300 businesses and one of the fastest growing commercial areas in Auckland.
"Carpool Now is helping make North Harbour a better place to do business by reducing the costs of transport and improving congestion. It provides yet another reason to choose North Harbour as the location of choice for business expansion and start-ups." says Ms Brinsdon.
Sue Kohn-Taylor is the transport project manager for the association and says that since the recent price hike in petrol, requests for carpooling information have come from company managers, as well as staff.
"Managers are looking for ways to make their employees lives easier, especially as living costs continue to rise. Initiating a carpooling scheme helps staff with travelling costs, reduces their stress levels and also encourages them to get to know their workmates better," she says.
Im Lye Nam attends English language classes at Te Wananga o Aoteroa in Albany. She carpools with her classmates five days a week and says the rising petrol prices were a key reason for her to make the switch from driving her car independently.
"When I first started classes it was too far to walk and there wasn't a public transport option, so I tried carpooling with two of my classmates. Now I carpool five days a week and I've found it to be a great way to make friends, practise my English and save money - I only pay $8 a week in petrol costs."
An increasing number of people are also choosing to go by bus, ferry or train as public transport patronage hits a 60-year high. In the last year buses carried 50 million passengers, followed by rail with 9.2 million passengers and ferries with 4.6 million passengers.