The Pooling Imperative

In preparing for the post-COVID, emissions constrained world, the urgent mission of The Pooling Imperative is to catalyze action by jurisdictions and agencies to achieve a step-change in the amount of trip-pooling. The time for action is now.

New Year, 2024:  Pooling World newsletter is now established!  Click to see it.

Click here to learn about the Ridesharing Institute in-person meeting, January 9, 2024, lunch hour, in downtown Washington, DC, near the TRB Annual Meeting venue.

Click here to learn about the Ridesharing Institute Online Conversation, January 25, 2024, noon to 1:30 pm via Zoom in the North American Pacific Time Zone.  Discussion topic is greening mobility, also known as decarbonization, important now when most road vehicles are powered by fossil-fueled internal combustion engines spewing carbon into the world wide atmosphere.

December 2023 -- As we all strive to develop strong measures to combat climate change, it appears our greatest challenge is identifying near-term actions that can produce meaningful results. Near-term actions can have the greatest cumulative impact on climate change. 

In the transportation realm, most climate action plans are medium-term or longer-term. However, a critical action that can produce substantial near-term emissions reductions has been "hiding in plain sight”: trip-pooling (carpools and vanpools).

Carpooling is not new; organized carpooling initiatives date back to World-War II. Although the carpool mode-share has gradually declined over several decades - as has the mode share of public transit - it is the #2 work travel mode in the United States (after drive-alone) with 10% of trips, the #2 mode in New Zealand at 8% of work trips, and the #5 mode in Germany at 8%. Carpool members include co-workers, family members, neighbors, and others. Arrangements are flexible. Carpools can operate full-time or part-time, and pickup or meeting points are decided by participants.

Vanpooling has a strong, 45-year history. Vanpools cater to longer-distance commute trips (20-100 miles each way), so on average solo drivers changing to a vanpool reduce about 70 vehicle-miles of emissions daily. Vanpools can consist of 7 to 15 people, with schedules and routes set by members.

Trip-pooling produces social and personal benefits beyond emissions reductions. Reduced local air pollution and traffic congestion are clear examples. For poolers there are parking-cost savings plus reduced or eliminated auto ownership, operating, and maintenance costs. Many poolers also enjoy time savings by using dedicated high occupancy vehicle lanes.

Organized efforts to increase trip-pooling have existed for decades for many reasons, achieving desired results at a very low cost per person-mile. Financial and organizational support came from employers and governments at all levels. Now, urgency resulting from changing climate, plus new technology options and new incentive structures, point to increasing focus and social investment on trip-pooling

What YOU can do:

Please send an email to the Ridesharing Institute Board at with your ideas, comments, or criticism about pooling, and particularly indicate if we have your permission to use your name as a supporter of The Pooling Imperative.

What WE are doing:

We are developing a strategy and seeking funding support to advocate for stronger, focused government and corporate policies, both short and long term. We aspire to double the amount of pooling within five years. We aim to recruit an effective champion to draw attention to this specific opportunity at the highest levels of policy-making around the world.

In the short term we are assembling existing resources to help create a policy environment that is more favorable to pooling. This is a work in progress. In the meantime, if you want to read some compelling resources, we recommend:

"Why We Need More Carpools & Vanpools" by The Ridesharing Institute Board of Directors, 2022. Research-based analysis.

"The Benefits of Carpooling: The Environmental and Economic Value of Sharing A Ride," by Shaheen, Cohen, and Bayen, 2018. This paper reviews over 80 pooling-related reports and papers written between 1979 and 2018 and presents their findings in an easily accessible format.

"Saving Oil in a Hurry 2018," by the International Energy Agency, (IEA) 2018. This report identifies and evaluates rapid demand restraint measures for transport, and finds that a combination of large car-pooling programs and odd/even day driving bans could reduce oil consumption by more than two million barrels per day across IEA member countries. Pages 22-24 have the key details.

" If the question is how to ameliorate traffic congestion, the answer is pooling. If it’s how to reduce climate change, still pooling. Social equity? Also pooling. Soaring transportation infrastructure costs? Pooling! What to do about the potential negative effects of automated vehicles (AVs)? Pooling. Going forward, pooling must be the principal focus of our thinking and actions related to transportation."
from: Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future, Island Press, 2018, edited by Dan Sperling

The Pooling Imperative is a project of The Ridesharing Institute,
a 501c3 non-profit organization

No cookies are used or generated by this site.

Webmaster is John Niles, or +1-206-781-4475

Copyright © 2022-24 Ridesharing Institute - All Rights Reserved.

This document is posted at