Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

Fuel-efficient cars are great for combating global warming. Electric-powered vehicles are even better. But nothing beats taking the bus. When it comes to going green on a budget, opting for public transportation is the surest way to reduce your eco-impact. This isn’t a news flash. As the environmental community has reminded us for years, public transportation-combined with walking and/or biking-is a surefire path to eco-enlightenment. It’s been proven. A study from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found that a bus carrying just seven passengers is more fuel-efficient (read: eco-friendly) than the average car. A full bus is six times more efficient. And a full train is 15 times more fuel-efficient than the average vehicle. But millions of us have yet to ditch our cars for the bus or the subway or the train. Life without a vehicle saves us money by liberating us from car payments, insurance premiums, sky-high gas prices, and general maintenance bills. That’s obvious. But it’s not enough. There has to be something else-a perk of sorts-that would make public transportation (or walking or biking) so enticing that we would have no choice but to leave our cars behind.

Free Internet access would be a start. Logging on while commuting would alter the nature of the nine-to-five hustle. Instead of spending their morning journey wishing they were still in bed, commuters would be able to finish that report before the early meeting, catch up on email, join an online game of Texas Hold ‘Em, or whatever it is that one does with the World Wide Web. And in more than 20 cities across America, Wi-Fi-equipped public transportation is no longer a fantasy. Bus fare in places like Cincinnati, Reno, Austin, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, San Francisco, and Seattle increasingly grants riders unlimited access to the Internet.

Wi-Fi is spreading to trains too. In Massachusetts, the 45-mile rail line connecting Worchester and Boston recently added free public Wi-Fi. And commuters are digging it. Kriss Erickson, deputy chief of staff for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, says that adding wireless Internet access is “probably the most well-received enhancement that we’ve ever done.” Plans are now under way to add Wi-Fi to all of Boston’s commuter rail lines. Santa Fe and Salt Lake City are not far behind.

Public transportation is best, but cars can still fit into a Lazy Environmentalist lifestyle if you drive them the right way-that is, full to capacity. The more passengers in the car, the lower the individual eco-impact of each person. That’s because sharing rides helps take cars off the road, and fewer cars on the road means fewer greenhouse gas emissions (can I get an “Amen!”). A good place to find additional passengers who are going your way is Zimride, a company founded on the simple idea that strangers are more likely to share rides with each other if they can be made to feel comfortable before they meet. To meet those needs Limo Service near me, Zimride has created a social networking platform that enables members to create personal profiles and select ride mates who share similar music tastes, favorite sports teams, or who just seem “normal.” Zimmers can also evaluate things like driving speed, music volume, and smoking preferences before agreeing to hop in. In addition to finding rides at Zimride.com, the Zimride Facebook application makes the ridesharing service readily available to Facebook’s 100 million-plus users.

Zimride is one of many vehicle-oriented services that consider the environment and your budget. RideAmigos is for those who want to share taxicabs anywhere around the world. PickUpPal combines ride sharing with package delivery-earn a little extra cash while you consolidate trips. And Shareling connects travelers looking to share a road trip-the website’s interactive maps show available rides across the globe. What better way to get from Cairo to Karachi on a Lazy Environmentalist budget? While Zimride makes ride sharing easy and stress-free, NuRide ups the ante by offering you rewards for sharing rides. The service operates just like an airline membership rewards program. The more rides you share, the more points you earn and the more value you can redeem. Partners include Applebee’s, Austin Grill, and Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. If that’s not motivation to find some passengers, I don’t know what is.

Then there’s the vanpool. That’s right. The vanpool. The rising popularity of ride sharing as both a cost-saving and environmental strategy has inspired groups of people (usually from 7 to 15) to share a van for their daily commute. A designated driver rides for free and everyone else shares the costs. To simplify the process, some rental car and leasing companies are contributing. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is increasingly offering a vanpooling rental program around the country. For about $75 to $120 each per month, Vanpoolers can use a van with insurance and maintenance fees included. And thanks to a Federal tax incentive program called Commuter Choice, those who work for a company that creates or sponsors a vanpool or ride share program can have up to $115 of their monthly paycheck applied tax-free to cover commuting costs.

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