Whoever said "virtue is its own reward" didn't know that the 511 Rideshare Rewards Program is giving away up to $100 in gasoline and Safeway gift cards to new carpoolers in the Bay Area.
To encourage Silicon Valley commuters to make the switch from "California carpools" (you know, where everyone going to the same place uses their own car) to real ones, they're giving away $10 in swag every five days you carpool --- and one person who carpools over 40 days will win $1,000 in cash! The program ends Halloween 2007 or when the money runs out.
For carpool newbies, the next logical question is, "Where do I find a carpool partner?"
Finding a Carpool Partner on 511.org
The 511 Ridematch site can automatically notify you of potential Silicon Valley carpool partners. You start by entering your email address and password, which is used to create an account for you. You can also optionally select the company you work at from a list pre-populated with the workplaces of existing members.
Afterwards, you're taken to a detailed form which asks you where you need to carpool to and from, what your contact phone number is, and what your typical work schedule looks like (as well as how much flexibility you have).
There is also a more detailed form where you can enter the variations in your weekly schedule if, for example, you need to be at your daughter's soccer games every Wednesday evening at 6:30pm.
Once you've entered your information, you'll be notified of people who are good matches for your schedule.
The folks at eRideShare.com take a broader approach to matchmaking. They not only cover commuter carpools, they also handle carsharing for running errands and cross-country trips.
Like 511 Ridematch, the system is free and convenient, but because they take a more Craigslist-style approach to connecting people, where people can remain relatively anonymous communicating using email aliases, eRideShare.com encourages safety and common sense.