How to stretch those gas dollars

The bad news: The price of a gallon of gasoline is expected to hit $4 or higher in the very near future. Worse news: As summertime traffic heats up, things aren’t likely to get better anytime soon at the gas pump.

While you can certainly strive not to drive, sometimes that’s simply not feasible. But as fuel prices skyrocket, a number of car-pooling and ride-share options are emerging for those who need four wheels and can’t always bus, bike or walk to get where they’re going.

Through many of the resources listed below, poolers can get one-time rides to, or at least close to, their destinations—whether they’re local, regional or on the opposite coast. And of course there are always daily commuters looking for rides or riders. Some Web sites enable organizations to form car-pool groups.

To hook up with an individual or a group, here are some online options. Some are specific to the area, while others are wider in scope and may require a keyword search of the site, depending on where you want to go.

• www.ashevillenc.gov/residents/transportation/default.aspx?id=2874

• www.carpoolworld.com

• www.asheville.craigslist.org/rid/

• www.erideshare.com/carpool.php?dstate=NC

• www.sharetheridenc.org

• groups.myspace.com/marshallrideshare

• www.carpoolconnect.com

Paul van Heden, who works for Asheville’s transit system, suggests a “vanpool” for area commuters. “A vanpool allows you to save wear and tear on your own vehicle, and offers greater cost savings,” he tells Xpress via an online comment.

If interested in starting a “vanpool,” van Heden suggests contacting Kathy Molin, Asheville’s Transportation Demand Management coordinator, at 232-4564 or kmolin@ashevillenc.gov.

A few more resources: If you’ve never given much thought to fuel economy, www.fueleconomy.gov gives practical advice on how to stretch your gas dollar; so does www.wikihow.com/Save-Money-on-Gas. And if you’re still driving solo but must pinch pennies nonetheless, a few clicks on www.gasbuddy.com will let you in on where the cheapest gas is sold, here and throughout the nation.

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