Taking the pain out of your commute
Morning commute getting you down? Gerri Willis looks at how to trim your travel time and maybe save a few bucks.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Who really enjoys commuting? With record high gas prices, impatient drivers and clogged highways it can be a daunting task just getting to work.
The average commute time nationwide is 25 minutes. New York City tops the list with an average commute of 39 minutes. In other major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, commuters are spending almost as much time getting to work, averaging about a half an hour of travel time.
Here's a look at some tools that can make your morning ride just a little bit easier.
1: Get your incentives
More and more employers are compensating employees who car pool or take mass transit to work. Some companies are giving away preferred or reduced cost parking spaces or hosting reward programs like raffle drawings for those workers that car pool. Other companies provide an emergency ride home for employees who car pool but have to return home unexpectedly.
Car poolers can also take advantage of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on the highway. An HOV lane typically requires at least two occupants in a car and can cut down on travel time by 15 to 30 minutes each way. Even some toll routes and bridges are giving discounts to car poolers.
2: Join a car pool
Most of us don't relish car pooling to work, but it can be a good way to cut your commuting costs. Tap your company resources first. Contact your human relations department and see if it has any car pooling links or information. You can also ask your company if there are any van pools available in your area, or if it has a relationship with any local transportation agencies.
You can also look at your state's department of transportation to see what's available in your area. And check Web sites like erideshare.com and carpoolconnect.com for find potential car poolers in your area.
3: Understand the etiquette
You'll definitely want to set up some ground rules before you start your car pool. Establish reimbursement costs in advance if there's only one driver. That means you should agree on a fare based on gas, maintenance and parking.
You will also want to set up a pick-up schedule and location. Make sure you outline how long to wait for those who may be late, and remember - you shouldn't take car poolers on errands. Keep your car well maintained, gassed up and keep the perfume or cologne to a minimum.