Car poolers working in Byron Bay: Rebecca Malthus from Wollongbar, Chris Ashton from Goonellabah and Simon Morrison from Lismore.
Car poolers working in Byron Bay: Rebecca Malthus from Wollongbar, Chris Ashton from Goonellabah and Simon Morrison from Lismore. Brenden Allen

Workmates pool their cars to cut fuel costs

WHEN her fuel bill leapt from $40 to $50 a week in less than five months, Rebecca Malthus decided enough was enough and that she would have to review her options for getting to work.

While she liked the idea of public transport, it wasn't really feasible. The bus trip from Rebecca's home at Wollongbar to her workplace in Byron Bay would take her three hours, and she would need to leave work at 3.30pm to make the last connecting bus in Lismore.

However, a quick poll around the office led her to a better, more viable option; and she is now saving about $35 a week and enjoying the company of workmates on her daily commute.

"I figured out where everybody else was from and we organised a car pool about six weeks ago," she said.

"Chris lives in Goonellabah and Simon lives in Lismore, and we take it week-by-week.

"I initially came up with the idea because Ballina Shire Council had information available about car pooling, but the people signed up were in different areas.

"It probably puts 20 minutes on my travel time, but when you're already driving 40 minutes, another 20 minutes isn't that much longer.

"It's great. I'm dreading the day someone moves and having to go back to driving every day. It would be great if more people used it."

The Ballina council developed a local action plan as part of its Cities for Climate Protection program, and has resulted in a car-pooling database linking work colleagues living close together.

The council also promotes an online car-pooling service at www.ecarpool.com.au where people can find others to share rides with.

Byron Shire Council mayor Jan Barham said her council did not have an official program in place for car pooling, but was looking into options.

"We're in the process of developing a transport strategy and when we had a forum last year that was one thing that came up," she said.

"What's happening with the fuel crisis is that people are going back to looking at some lateral, logical and commonsense applications to how we can conserve energy; the other thing that comes up from it is that it connects communities.

"There are real social benefits that come from these sorts of practices and you then meet all the criteria of
sustainability - economic, environmental and social."

 


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