Yes that is correct, I rode in a car with 3 "strangers" from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and it was a fantastic, cheap and convenient way to get to my destination!
Before you dismiss me as crazy, read on to learn about my experience - maybe you'll be inspired to try ride-sharing (whether for commuting to work, or for longer trips similar to mine):
A few months ago, I decided to visit some friends in Los Angeles for a few days.
I didn't want to fly (expensive airline tickets, plus the carbon footprint of flying is huge) and I also didn't want to drive on my own (gas is expensive, and I don't like driving for that long by myself). I had also just finished reading a book about the Sharing Economy ("What's Mine is Ours," by Rachel Botsman) and was really excited and motivated to try ride sharing. But is there a safe, convenient and fun way to go about this?
Someone recommended a ride-sharing website called Zimride to me:
It's very easy to use. Drivers (people who are driving their own car) can post their ride (departure and destination location, time and day they are departing), the number of available seats in their car, and a suggested fee for rides (to cover gas and car wear-and-tear). Riders (that's me!) can easily search for rides based on location and departure day/time.
I started searching for rides just a week before I was hoping to get to LA. Luckily the Bay Area-to-Southern CA trip is a very common one on Zimride, so I had about 10 options. I was able to view details about the driver and other passengers (they link to your Facebook, as well as reviews that they've received from previous riders / drivers about their driving skills, punctuality, etc.). The website allows you to message each other through the website mail system, so you do not have to use your personl email if you prefer not to.
I contacted a driver named Mary, because she was departing from Oakland and could pick me up at the BART station (convenient for me because I could take BART from Contra Costa to meet her there), her departure time worked out perfectly with my schedule, and we actually shared a mutual friend (which I found out through Zimride via Facebook)!
I met her and the other 2 passengers (who also found Mary through Zimride) at the BART station, and off we went on our drive to LA! The other 2 passengers were in their 20s and 30s. One was on a business trip from Germany, and the other was a university exchange student from Russia. Both were visiting relatives and friends in LA and were very interesting to talk to in the car. They said this type of ride-sharing is very common and "normal" in Europe. Cool!
Our driver drives from LA to Oakland and vice versa once a month to visit family - she says she always posts her rides on Zimride and she is able to recuperate some of the gas expenses that way, and it also helps her stay awake during her drive because she gets to meet interesting people.
Our driver was very flexible and offered to drop us off wherever convenient for us to get picked up by our friends, as long as it was somewhat along the same route as her drive. This worked out really well because my LA friend picked me up in a convenient location instead of having to go all the way to the airport to get me!
Overall, I really enjoyed this transportation option because it was fast, convenient and easy, not to mention better for the environment because we were all carpooling in one vehicle rather than each driving separately! I ended up only spending $40 for the whole ride, which I think was definitely worth it.
So what do you think? Would you try out ride-sharing services like Zimride?