Contributor Blog: How You Can Commute for Free

On the premiere episode of On the Money, Brandy was looking to cut her expenses after a divorce. She works in San Francisco, and lives across the San Francisco Bay, in the East Bay area. She was spending $300 a month on ferry tolls to get to work each day, and had other significant transportation costs as well. How could she save on commuting and get her costs under control?

I suggested that she check out Casual Carpool, which is a way for people to cut their commuting costs to zero.

Casual Carpools, as they're known in the Bay Area, or the (much less appealingly named!) "Slug Lines," as they're called in the Washington, D.C./Arlington, Virginia area, are a way for people who drive to work to pick up other commuters at standard pick-up points, so they can get into carpool lanes on high-traffic highways. In the Bay Area, people who drive across the very-congested Bay Bridge into San Francisco use casual carpoolers to cut as much as an hour off their commute time, while saving themselves money on bridge tolls at the same time. For the carpoolers, the ride is completely free -- no tolls, no gas, and no maintenance and insurance costs on a car.

When you're "slugging," there are a few simple rules to remember. Generally, the driver gets to choose the radio station, and if the driver doesn't initiate conversation, then passengers don't talk (more like a bus than a private car). Also, most carpools ask that you not consume food or drink in the car. Both of the sites on the practice list known pick-up points, and suggest safety and courtesy rules that make the system work well.

In addition to the Bay Area and the D.C. area, people in Houston and Seattle are trying casual carpooling, too. Do you know of a casual carpool in your area?

If so, leave a note about it below! And if you're in one of the areas with a thriving casual carpool system, give it a try, either as a driver or a passenger.

As a driver, you'll save on tolls and get to work faster. As a passenger, you'll also get to work faster, and it will be for free.

[Marc Hedlund is co-founder and CEO of and contributor to On the Money]

>>Washington, D.C./ Arlington, Virginia "Slug Lines"

>>San Francisco Bay Area "Casual Carpools"

Another great place to find a carpool is at They are a free nationwide carpool matching service. They match people up based upon close by intersections or addresses. They even have a forum section for a one time ridehare. --Brian, TX

Posted on: 11 Aug 2008 2:59 P.M.

Check out --Paul, New Zealand

Posted on: 10 Aug 2008 3:53 P.M.