Up to 85% of all car rides are made alone: The next time you're on the road, forget your gas mileage for a second, and just imagine how many people driving right by you are actually going to the same place. In our carbon-conscious times, that's insanity.
The answer, of course, is car pooling. Find a ride partner, and your carbon footprints drop by half. And therein lies the problem. How do you find a suitable match? Do you really want to drive 30 minutes with a sweaty stranger whose only cares are World of Warcraft and hockey?
This past weekend, ZoomPool launched with the aim of fixing the dilemma. The Web site, which is focused on the Bay Area for now, aims to bring social-networking savvy to the ridesharing process—you get to browse driver and rider profiles, which detail things like chattiness, radio preference, and smoking. Premium members undergo a routine background check. The site also takes care of the delicate issue of cost-splitting, processing the billing for you. And what's even better, members get to score each other like they would on Yelp or eBay.
Brilliant stuff. But there are precedents: online ridesharing resources have existed for years. But interest in these services seems to have spiked with the oil-price insanity of last summer, and the rising attention paid to carbon footprint. Avego, for example, has designed an iPhone app for matching rideshare partners on the fly.