Last week we explored ways to save money on skyrocketing gas costs. Let's take a closer look at carpooling options. The best approach is to find others at work who live in your vicinity. But if this doesn't pan out, how about trying to connect with people online?
There are many carpooling websites but most of them are not worthwhile for the Conejo Valley. These include: www.NuRide.com (not available yet in our area), www.ridecheck.com (mostly for 1-time rides, not regular carpools), www.carpoolworld.com (just didn't seem very user friendly nor helpful), www.ridesearch.com (was useless to me) and www.ridester.com (mostly 1-time rides). And ride-sharing social network sites www.zimride.com and www.goloco.org were too much effort to figure out. I prefer something immediately USEFUL!
The one website that seemed to have a decent selection of potential carpoolers in the Conejo Valley area was www.eRideshare.com. The site is geared towards daily commuters and did not take long to figure out. I quickly found 50 possible carpools originating within a 10 mile radius of Thousand Oaks. Type in your zip code and see what is available. You still must register (for free) to contact other users. This one is worth checking out.
You can also try the Ventura County craigslist rideshare link (http://ventura.craigslist.org/rid/). This turned up a few possibilities but is mostly geared towards 1-time rideshares.
I had high hopes for www.ridematch.info as it is sponsored by various local transportation authorities. They make you register before searching for carpools which I did not like. After that somewhat painful process I found very few options. The site has potential but was not user friendly. I would not recommend it.
Another alternative is the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train, which runs from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. With local stations in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi, you can take the train to Glendale, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and other destinations. Amtrak can be pricey for a 1-time commute (currently $32 round-trip Moorpark/Los Angeles) but if you buy a monthly pass ($302) and use it all the time you can really save a lot of money and wear and tear (both you and your car). Visit www.AmtrakCalifornia.com for more information.
So good luck and let me know if you have other carpooling ideas!