About

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 2014
I’ve been away from the blog, but I’m still Pooling Around each day as a casual carpooler, ferry rider, and BART passenger. Changes at my job kept me away for awhile. But I’m back! Daily I tweet (@commutergal)about my daily commute and weekly I’ll be on the blog with a longer commentary on commuting and transportation issues. I hope you’ll share your commuting adventures here as well.
– commutergal

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I’ve been a ‘casual carpool’ rider (and occasional driver) for the last 4 years, commuting into San Francisco daily.  This ingenious system of commuting which was created by commuters themselves 30 years ago,  provides a faster and less costly commute than the options of ferryboat, BART, bus or driving.  The bonus is that it makes for less cars on the freeways.

Every one who does this has stories, or comments to tell about their casual carpool experience, or perhaps a communication to share with other riders and drivers.

This blog, Pooling Around gives us a place to do that.

I will share my thoughts each day and look forward to reading your stories and comments.

Commuter Gal

16 Responses

  1. Hey, C.G.:
    So cool that you’re doing this blog! SF & DC are leading a trend for the world with casual carpooling/slugging, I think and hope!

    It’s great to read these stories, just to give us a glimpse of a system that already works. (I don’t know if you’ve heard of Avego, but we’re creating a technology that will enable this in other geographies, we call it shared transport… it’s not as big as casual carpooling in SF yet, but it’s growing).

    Anyway, I’ve plugged your blog to some of my friends… I wanted to write to encourage you to keep writing, it’s really cool to see these stories, it brings to mind all the concerns that people would have with this system, but puts them in good context. Sorry about the carpool toll, that’s a bummer!

    Writing from Ireland, I don’t get to see what’s going on in SF that often, so it’s interesting to get your perspective.

    Take care
    Best,
    Sean

  2. Hey Commuter Gal,
    I like what you are doing with your website. I also carpool from the Vallejo location. One thing that really irritates me in the morning is when drivers drop off their passengers right in front of the line of cars. This backs up traffic for the other cars trying to leave. One person’s inconsideration effects the entire carpool line of cars and passengers. Besides being incosiderate it is also dangerous. I have seen several near misses of cars behind trying to go around this car. Can you please post this request that drivers turn the corner and drop off their passengers on the other side of the street away for the cars waiting in line?

    Thank you,
    vallejokid

    • Hi John – YES! My ride to the carpool drops me off in the next lane over – away from that whole pick up area – it’s way too congested and dangerous. And you’re right – when a car dropping someone off stops right in front of the exiting line of cars, guess what? Duh. No one can move.

      We all need to be careful in that carpool area – the pick up area, and the intersection where we enter and exit the carpool lot. A couple of months ago I wrote in my blog about a conversation I had with a driver about that very thing. A fellow car-pooling friend of his was hit and badly injured by a car while walking into the carpool area. There’s no traffic light there and there’s a lot of traffic. Let’s watch out for each other, everyone. Thanks John and have a great holiday! CG

      • Hi CG,
        Thanks for posting my comments. Hopefully people will get the message to be more considerate. Sorry for my tardy reply.

        Keep on keeping on!

  3. This carpool blog is a great idea. Since 1998, I’ve been carpooling for roughly 8 years. This site is a good place to inform other riders of traffic-causing events (ie: ballgames, BART shutdowns), warn each other about “sketchy” drivers/passengers, and share stories. And I got some horror stories. I’ve had a car window shattered for no reason, another car stolen (which was later involved in a high-speed chase and fell into a ditch), had a catalytic converter stolen, and the most ridiculous story of all, I’ve had a stowaway in the back of a truck. I’ve witnessed a mugging in the parking lot, called 911 but the dispatch did nothing except ask me what my name and address was. That security tower in the parking lot is a joke because it’s merely a paperweight. Also, Lemon St isn’t the friendliest spot in town either. The reason why I started carpooling again is that the other commuting alternatives are getting too costly, especially in this economy. But that’s the risk we take to pay bills every month.

  4. I’ve always seen the paper post on the pole at the Vallejo carpool line and had always been curious and intended on checking it out. I’ve been casual commuting off and on since 2003 and after having lived in cities abroad, I’d have to say that this sophisticated, unique system is truly Bay Area. I haven’t read thoroughly through your posts, but it’s great that there’s some sort of forum on which to discuss carpooling issues on this level of depth and attention. I too have many things to say including minor to major rants, and opinions about basic etiquette. I’ll be reading and commenting! Thanks.

  5. Hey commutergal,

    I am a radio and tv student at San Francisco state, and I want to do a brief (5 minute) piece on casual carpool for a class project. I know that KPIX did a story on it in June, but I can’t find it on the net, the link just takes you to the cbs home page and it doesn’t show up on a google search.

    I would like to interview a frequent rider, driver, and perhaps someone loosely associated with cc’s maintenance and information dispersal. Before I go to stops and try to recruit people, I was hoping you might be interested in being interviewed (again 😉 and/or have a driver and rider friend who would be willing to give about a 15 min interview at a convenient location and time.

    Thanks for your cool blog,
    Sasha Doppelt, Berkeley

  6. […] Express is the modern answer to making it less stressful to get to work.  We took a lesson from San Fancisco’s casual carpooling and adapted it to the Hibiscus Coast, making the Hibiscus Coast the coolest place in New […]

  7. Kudos to you and your new blog! There are a zillion stories out there on the freeways and you have a very fun to read take on it. I’ll be a regular reader. Thanks! CG

  8. hey commutergal – thanks for the kind words, and be sure to check out my main site freewayblogger.com if you haven’t seen it yet. the blog (freewayblogger.blogspot.com) has plenty of work done in San Francisco, east bay, marin, etc. write me and i’ll send you some links.

    peace, scarlet p.

  9. Dear Commuter Gal,

    We are a Chicago-based non profit and want to help people lower their transportation costs around the US. We have developed Abogo to help educate and advise people on how to live a low transportation-cost life. It is a helpful resource for us and hopefully for you too.

    We found your blog and thought it was a great source for our readers interested in San Francisco. Let us know if you have any comments.

    http://abogo.cnt.org/2011/04/san-francisco-city-by-the-bart/

    Thanks,

    Brooke

    • Hi Brooke and hello to Abogo! What a fascinating resource you are!! And the photos and descriptions of San Francisco’s neighborhoods are terrific. I noted that you mentioned under carpooling that there is some evidence that carpool lanes are actually slowing down commute traffic. A couple of UC Berkeley professors did separate studies on this and each of them came up with a different theory – one that yes, they do slow down traffic, and the other that no, they don’t. I think that commute traffic is slow because there are too many cars on the road, and an effective carpool system can help reduce that.

      For nearly 30 years the Casual Carpool system meant free toll to carpoolers. Last July that changed and now all carpool vehicles pay a toll. As a result, there are fewer commuters using the carpool lane. Our transit authority people happily announced that congestion had been reduced as a result (actually by very few minutes); they were also delighted to see the toll revenue increase substantially. But the number of cars on the road? They’re still there.

      Transportation agencies need to look more closely at the big picture and the years ahead. While some extra toll revenue helps their rapidly growing deficit right now, it’s not solving the real problem. We can’t just keep adding more and more lanes of cement to take care of the traffic. We need better mass transit, with more affordable rates, more conveniently located stations, better connections to local transportation. And the cars we drive need to stop relying on gas for energy.

      Resources like Abogo are one way to help people become aware of the costs and consequences of the way we travel. Thank you! CG

  10. Hi CG,

    I follow your blog religiously! Would like to talk to you about advertising on your blog and/or other opportunities. If interested please reply to this post or you can find me on twitter @avego.

    Amy

  11. Dear Ms. Commuter Gal,
    Your blog was recommended to me by a couple of friends, and I’m so glad to have found it! I’m actually a lifelong non-driver (which probably makes me different from the majority,if not all, of your readers), but being so does make me highly aware of transportation in a unique way. While I’m a big proponent of reliable, effective,safe & environmentally sound public transportation, I also understand & respect that private transportation is a permanent reality. I really like how you blend the cultures of both these things & present them in such an appealing voice.
    The personal anecdotes you include and the historical information is especially of interest to me. I hope you’ll have even more of this in your future postings.
    Count me as lifelong passenger along for your fascinating ride!

    With best wishes & much appreciation,
    Miranda.

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