Q: What is casual carpool?

A: Casual carpool is an alternative method for creating carpools. It emerged in the 1970s in San Francisco and Washington DC and has steadily grown since. The key is its convenience and time saving made possible by its ad-hoc nature. Casual carpools are formed between at least two riders and one driver at the pickup locations in the East Bay during carpool lane hours. Because both riders and drivers can form a carpool almost immediately when they arrive, it can be faster than relying on a traditional carpool and is almost always faster than driving individually, taking BART or walking.

Q: Is casual carpool safe?

A: The casual carpool community is made up of many like-minded commuters and has generally been a favorable environment with few incidents. Everyone who participates in casual carpool benefits from using the system, therefore they have an incentive to treat other users respectfully and to promote safety in order to maintain the integrity of the system. In spite of the benefits of people working together to share resources, some people will forget to be considerate of others. For this reason, users are encouraged to use their best judgement before making the choice to ride with someone and to practice safe driver and passenger behavior during the ride. Casual carpoolers are encouraged to understand the legal implications of getting into the car with a stranger. SF Casual Carpool is not liable for any damages, losses, injury, etc for the use of the information on the site and any incidental events related to the commute.

Q: What is the etiquette?

A: How considerate of you, thanks for asking! The golden rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated. More specific details are listed below. You can also read the etiquette here.

  1. In line, as a rider and a driver, respect the first-come first serve policy (wait your turn in line).
  2. Respect the driver's vehicle (food, odors, phone conversations, makeup, hair dryers, electric shavers, etc should be finished before you get into the car).
  3. Drivers, it is your car, but please refrain from cruel and unusual punishment of passengers (loud music/radio, a dirty car, etc).
  4. Safe driving is the priority when on the road. Drivers and passengers are responsible for safe driving or riding.
  5. Conversations. Not everyone is looking to talk early in the morning. Drivers have the prerogative to start a conversation, while passengers generally keep quiet until then. Passengers offering contributions to the driver are one exception.
  6. Conflicts happen. It's inevitable. Some people like the Raiders, others the 49ers. Some the Giants, others the A's. In the event of a disagreement before you reach the dropoff point, use your head. Stay calm and finish the ride safely.

Q: What if I'm stuck without a ride?

A: In the event that you're stuck without a ride, casual carpool locations are usually close to many forms of public transportation that can get you into the city. In the event that public transit options aren't in service, we encourage you to check out services like Lyft and Sidecar. The majority of casual carpool locations are located near BART or bus stops so you can quickly be on your way if a ride is looking unlikely. Such circumstances typically happen when you've showed up to a location near the end of the carpool hours of operation so drivers are less likely to come by.

Q: Why would I want to casual carpool?

A: Great question! Studies have shown that those who casual carpool can save an average of 20 minutes on their morning commute into San Francisco compared to driving. It's the fastest way for both riders and drivers to get from the East Bay to downtown San Francisco in the morning. Casual carpooling may also save commuting costs related to tolls or public transportation.

Q: What about new casual carpool pickup locations?

A: Awesome! As the community grows, more locations will create further growth. Good casual carpool locations have a combination of features including: near public transit, close to common commute routes, high population density, and room for parking.
Want to suggest a new East Bay pickup location? Add it here!

Q: I lost or found something during my casual carpool, what should I do?

A: Oh no! Visit our contact page for instructions on how to post a description and get in touch with the right person to have it returned.

Q: Do I have to pay for casual carpool?

A: Casual carpool has typically existed as a cash-less system. Riders and drivers both share the benefit of time and cost savings. However, as drivers face the costs of maintaining a vehicle, buying gas and the paying the toll, they are free to ask for a nominal contribution from riders to offset these costs. Drivers should make clear *before* riders enter the car that they will be asking for a contribution. Once the ride begins it generally discouraged to ask for a contribution. In the case of a conflict, maintain safe driving habits and respect for others, the highest rule. Although this is not legal advice, we encourage drivers to research the legal risk they could assume when accepting payment from a rider.

Q: What about liability?

A: These questions need addressing. SF Casual Carpool does not organize casual carpooling. We do encourage everyone to practice common sense throughout the entire casual carpool process. From parking your car, to waiting in line, to entering a carpool arrangement, to driving and upon reaching your final destination, act responsibly and obey all laws and regulations. SF Casual Carpool assumes no liability for any damages, injury or circumstances that might occur with the use of the site and the casual carpool system. Any use of the site or the information it provides is understood to be at the person's own risk. Casual carpool is a great system because people have been good at doing all of these things. We encourage anyone with more detailed questions to review the California Vehicle Code and talk to a lawyer for specific information about personal liability. Thanks for taking the time to read this and become a better casual carpooler!

Q: Who runs casual carpool? Who maintains this site?

A: The short answer is, everyone who participates in it plays a role in running it (it's community driven). Due to this, no specific individual has authority over it (and probably shouldn't). This website was made by a passionate casual carpool participant, intended to share the concept of casual carpool with others, but it doesn't represent any central management over the organization.