Save up to £800 a year on your commute
Millions of us get into our cars every day and drive to work but with soaring petrol prices, and the rising costs of living, this is costing a fortune.
Drivers travelling alone spend an extra £1,017 a year, compared to those travelling with two or more passengers, according to Halifax, and every day there are 10 million empty seats on our roads.
At the same time, the cost of train travel has become cripplingly expensive for commuters. And with regulated fares set to increase by 3% to 5% above inflation each year until 2014 it’s about to get a lot worse.
One way you can cut the cost of travelling is by joining a car-sharing scheme.
This works by joining up with people who live or work near each other and make the same journey. By sharing the journey with someone else you will be saving money, as you will split petrol costs. You’ll also help to reduce the number of cars on the road.
How much can I save?
According to the UK’s largest car-sharing scheme Liftshare, the average car sharer can save around £800 a year. However, it can be even more depending on the length of the journey, what type of car you’ve got and the number of passengers.
For example, if you travel 30 miles a day and have a large-sized car (two-litre car engine) and you share with one other person, you can save £955.30 a year. If you share with four other people this amount rises to £1,528.48.
You can make savings on small journeys as well. If you drive 20 miles once a week and share with four other people, you’ll save £203.80 over the year.
Where can I find a car-share scheme in my area?
There are several car-sharing companies in the UK, but Liftshare (liftshare.com/uk/) and National Car Share (nationalcarshare.co.uk) are the most established sites. Liftshare, for example, has around 470,000 members. It’s free to join and you simply put in your postcode and you’ll be matched up with potential car sharers in your area.
Village car-share (villagacarshare.com), sister site of liftshare.com, is designed specifically for people living in rural communities.
You can also use Carplus (carplus.org.uk), which is a database of car sharing schemes throughout the UK. Once you’ve put in your details it will show you all the available journeys in your area.
How do they work?
Once you join a scheme you’ll be given a member log on or a member’s card. Before you meet up with your fellow car sharer speak to them on the phone and ask for details of their membership so you can check these on the website. When you meet them for the first time make sure it’s in a well-lit area and check the registration number on the car. This should tally up with the information you’ve been given beforehand and you should also ask to see the driver’s licence.
What about the costs?
How to split the driving costs is left up to the individual but most car-sharing schemes recommend drivers and passengers split them equally. Most websites will let you put in the start and end point of your journey, plus details about the type of car travelling in (cost of car, MOT details, date of last service), and will give you an estimate of how much the journey will cost. You can then show this to your passengers and split the costs.
Are there any other benefits of car sharing?
There are also other social benefits to car sharing. You’ll be able to meet new people in your neighbourhood and it’s a good way for people living in rural areas to get to know their neighbours. Be aware though you are sharing a car with someone else so make sure you’re not eating smelly food or putting on loud music or you might not be asked to car share again.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).