uses the exact grid references of a commuter’s home and place of work in order to find the best match for a trip in any city in the world – although it is primarily based in North America, and includes a ‘shortest detour’ function which tells the commuter whether they or the other commuter should be the driver. Organisations wishing to run their own car pool schemes are also able to do so using the website’s technology as part of its ‘partnership’ scheme.

The system has a number of membership options. Users can search for other commuters on the database with matching daily journeys, and can enter their own data onto the system for free, enabling other travellers to contact them. A package costing $12 per year gives commuters the additional capability of sending emails to other travellers, and buys them a bumper sticker. “We don’t receive any advertising revenue or government funding, and we think the bumper sticker idea is very appropriate,” said Max Fox, who developed the concept. The ‘partnership’ scheme involves a one-off $100 fee, plus 10 cents per month per sub-user, although very small car pools can be created for a local community, hospital or office block using the website’s TripMatch software for $20.

Users need to input their grid references into the system, although the site provides automatic co-ordinate retrieval based on US zip codes or Canadian postal codes. “We realise that using latitude and longitude will be a new experience for many of our users, so we’re continually improving our built-in tools,” said Isabelle Boulard, the system’s programmer.

In order to ensure the privacy of those using the scheme, the system requests as little identifying information as possible, and in order to minimise any potential abuse of the scheme, all emails sent through the programme are recorded.

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