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Compatible carpooling

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Carpooling is a great way to cut both your transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and your gasoline spending. You probably associate it most with commuting to and from work: a few co-workers get together and agree to share costs (and the headaches of driving in rush hour traffic). But what about trips into town for a museum visit, or a ballgame, or shopping? More than likely, you’ll make those trips alone… and that adds up to a lot of cars heading in the same direction. Up to 85% of car trips, in fact, involve just one person.

A number of services have stepped up to try and stem that tide of solo drivers. This is helpful, but it also makes ride sharing a bit like internet dating: you won’t find out that your ride partner wants to share his opinions about death panels loudly and frequently, and have you pay for a full tank of gas, until you make the trip…

Bay Area start-up ZoomPool aims to not only make carpooling more convenient, but also more compatible. Users can pool up not only by destination, but by preferences. So, if you want to share a ride to a Giants game with a non-smoker who doesn’t like to gab, you can make that request. ZoomPool also takes arguing over costs out of the equation by charging riders $.20/mile (for a maximum of three riders to prevent profiteering), and then paying that to the driver. Finally, if you want to make sure your driver doesn’t have a string of DUI arrests or other safety violations, you can limit your search to “Certified” members, who pay a small fee for background checks.

It’s an intriguing concept. While ZoomPool only operates in the Bay Area at this point, we could see demand for such a service springing up in many places…

via the Santa Cruz Sentinel