There are some advantages to driving across the state line alone every day.
David Blue, 59, who works in Timonium, Md., for an electrical contractor, gets to blast some Guns N' Roses on his afternoon drive.
But it's not enough to make up for the price of gas, so Blue is looking for someone to share his ride to work.
"I see a lot of the same cars every day," Blue said. "Some of those people have got to work second shift."
Blue has tried for months to snag one of those drivers whose schedule overlaps with his 3 to 11:30 p.m. shift.
He's painted a big advertisement on the back of his Chevrolet Blazer, and he's placed two online advertisements.
Brandy Heilman, program director for the local Commuter Services of South Central Pennsylvania, said the past few months have been some of the most successful ever for carpooling in the region.
Her free online service, which launched in August 2005, links people who want to share their driving routes. From that time until about May of this year, about 6,000 people signed up.
Today, that number is about 9,000 and climbing. Lower gas prices recently haven't been a deterrent, either, Heilman said. August is on pace to be the group's best month to date.
Heilman said the success rate of people who find a match recently climbed to 50 percent. Still, half the people who sign up are not successful for many reasons, from after-work activities to the psychology of personal space.
She said willing people should continue putting themselves out there and stay open to sharing rides. With a higher volume of people using linking services comes a better chance for people like Blue.
Despite the possible problems, including his second-shift job, Blue said he intends to keep looking. The recently fallen price of gas isn't stopping his search, either.
"It really hasn't dropped too much," Blue said.
Not everyone is finding success carpooling. The success rate for Commuter Services of South Central Pennsylvania, a free linking service for those interested in carpooling, is about 50 percent -- but rising. Some reasons or difficult situations:
--- Fewer people are available to share rides for second- or third-shift jobs because fewer people have those jobs.
--- Classes or other activities, for yourself or your children, interfere with coming home right after work. It's also less likely to be a stop you share with your ride-to-work partner.
--- Driving time is personal time and many people don't want to give it up.
--- The farther people drive from home (like outside of their home county or state) the less likely they are to find a match.
There are some simple things you can do to increase your chances of finding a carpool partner.
--- Ask your employer to encourage employees to carpool and post ride-sharing information.
--- Ask your employer if you could change your hours slightly to accommodate driving with other people.
--- Initially offer to meet someone in a neutral spot, such as a park-and-ride lot along your route. It might help people become more comfortable with driving with you.
--- Encourage others to carpool and to sign up for ride-linking services. The more people in databases, the more matches.
--- Look for people you could meet part of the way to your destination. Any amount of the distance shared helps.
Source -- Brandy Heilman, program director, Commuter Services of South Central Pennsylvania
For more information about Commuter Services of South Central Pennsylvania, visit www.pacommuterservices.com.
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