Car pooling

One side of the block opposite the bus station that we walk passed quite a bit has signs up for car pooling – signs with destination names of towns in the East Bay like Walnut Creek, Oakland etc. It’s on a street that’s one of the routes out of town and mid afternoon people start gathering along the fence, waiting for a ride.

Car pooling

We’ve seen it a couple of times now. As we walked passed, there was a constant stream of cars with just a driver stopping by the curb near one of the signs, where 3 people of those waiting got in the car. Judging by the greetings, body language and silence in the car while it then waited at the lights I would say they were all strangers – just in the car for a ride.

So what’s it all about? Could Google it but we spent the rest of the walk home figuring it out for ourselves. The people stopping to pick people up were well dressed men in nice big cars. It was the start of rush hour. Traffic is really thick here but some lanes in the city and on the motorway are expressly reserved for car pooling, meaning 3 or more people in a car. So in order for someone to drive their nice big car home quickly and not get stuck in the traffic, by giving people a ride, they get to use these reserved lanes. Not sure where they drop them off at the other end, I guess it’s reasonable to assume it’s on their way home otherwise they wouldn’t’ve stopped at this end. Also, how to do they get paid back? Do the people getting a ride throw them a few dollars for petrol? Do they ever give the driver a ride another day … that’s the spirit of car pooling isn’t it – sometimes my car, sometimes yours? Although to be honest, I’m not sure the well-dressed business man would stand on the side of the road waiting for a ride.

The Sunday just gone we were on a bus for a return trip out to Emmeryville (first town over the bridge) and the bus took the car pool and bus lane which totally by-passed the toll gates for the bridge that are typically snarled with up to 12 lanes of traffic. Cars using the car pool lane must have a fast pass (unit for automatically paying tolls attached to their windscreen) but the fare in the car pool lane is about half the price of going through the toll. The fines for improper use of the car pool lane is $277.


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