Posts Tagged 'carpool'

Our New Honda Hybrid

2008 Honda Civic hybrid We researched ad nauseum what fuel-efficient, low-emissions car we should buy. We finally chose the Honda Civic hybrid for its great ratings all around, plus its state AND federal tax credits. We waited and waited for it to arrive at the dealership. Last night we finally brought it home.

Not a car person by nature, I’m learning new things:

  • pzev (our Honda is one) means ‘partial zero emissions vehicle’
  • the Honda hybrid still gets the $1,050 federal tax credit while the Prius does not
  • but both Prius and Honda hybrid get the $1,500 Oregon tax credit
  • new hybrids get better mileage as you keep driving them
  • (that is no excuse to drive any more than truly necessary)
  • ‘magnetic pearl’ is near-black on paper and silver-gray on a real-life car
  • car dealerships these days feature nice, high bistro tables and free coffee
  • I advise bringing your own coffee instead

Ideally, the single car my husband and I own sits at home daily and acts as a watchdog that keeps burglars away while we take TriMet to work. But now I carpool to Salem most days. Tomorrow will be our new hybrid’s maiden voyage to Oregon’s capital. With four of us in the car, we can get about 160 miles per gallon when calculated on a per person basis. Can you beat that for fuel efficiency?

Wait a minute, yes you can. Walking and bicycling get infinite miles per gallon. And since our friend is coming for dinner tonight I have to fetch a few groceries. Definitely a bike errand. Our sleek hybrid will sit at home in the driveway in all its ‘magnetic pearl’ splendor.

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Carpooling Is Cool

The financial benefits of carpooling, featured in a front page story of the Oregonian today, are only one reason that carpooling is cool. I’d say its coolness is embodied in four C’s: cash, congestion reduction, carbon footprint and community.

The carpool I’m in makes my commute between Portland and Salem a joy instead of a grind. But the cash part first. The Oregonian’s simple chart states that driving alone would cost each of the six of us $12,344/year (including depreciation, etc., besides gas). Parking fees would be $756/year individually, but are just $104 as part of the group. So, by carpooling rather than driving alone, my carpool partners and I each save more than $10,500 per year.

We’re also each reducing our carbon footprint significantly by carpooling, and also our role in traffic congestion. With all that virtue, you would think we are martyrs, sighing pitifully as we make painful sacrifices. But no, the opposite is true. We joke around, take naps, share news and books, debrief from work, read, grab each others’ last-minute concert tickets, team up for Pub Quiz nights. I played a great prank on them for April Fools Day that I think they’ve forgiven me for. Carpooling can be community.

Especially if public transit isn’t available to you, you should give yourself the gift of carpooling, too. Living here in Oregon, I found mine through Carpool Match Northwest. Keep in mind that joining a carpool doesn’t mean you have to carpool every day; it can be flexible.

Coming up soon: report and pictures of the EcoProm: Oregon League of Conservation Voters Annual Dinner for the Environment that just happened last Friday night.

The Five-Carat Commute

On the first day of my new job in Salem, Oregon yesterday, I left my house in Portland before 6 a.m. and got home about 6:4o p.m. I spent three hours and forty minutes total on the commute, including walking to and from the Capitol Mall to my building.

Ye gads. To think that millions of people around the world do this for decades of their lives in order to earn a living and provide for their families. I respect the patience and tenacity this kind of commuting takes (I have usually taken the bus downtown or worked from home).

So why is mine the five-carat commute? My five carpool partners, who keep me from doing the long drive by myself, save me money and reduce my carbon footprint. (Well, I’ve met two of them so far, since not everyone goes to Salem daily.) They are friendly and fun and make the drive go by quickly. I alternate between conversation, reading and working on my laptop. My quality of life gets to remain high due to my carpool.

To find out how much money you could save by carpooling or using other travel options use this commute calculator. Note: I found my carpool through Carpool Match Northwest.