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Thread: Slugging/casual carpooling

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Slugging/casual carpooling

    I saw This article today and it blew my mind.

    Any cyburbanites slugged?

    Moderator note:
    (Dan) From the site, and for the search engines.

    Slugging is a term used to describe a unique form of commuting found in the Washington, DC area sometimes referred to as "Instant Carpooling" or "Casual Carpooling". It's unique because people commuting into the city stop to pickup other passengers even though they are total strangers! However, slugging is a very organized system with its own set of rules, proper etiquette, and specific pickup and drop-off locations. It has thousands of vehicles at its disposal, moves thousands of commuters daily, and the best part, it’s FREE! Not only is it free, but it gets people to and from work faster than the typical bus, metro, or train. I think you'll find that it is the most efficient, cost-effective form of commuting in the nation.

    * How the Slugging Works

    The system of slugging is quite simple. A car needing additional passengers to meet the required 3- person high occupancy vehicle (HOV) minimum pulls up to one of the known slug lines. The driver usually positions the car so that the slugs are on the passenger side. The driver either displays a sign with the destination or simply lowers the passenger window, to call out the destination, such as "Pentagon," "L’Enfant Plaza," or "14th & New York." The slugs first in line for that particular destination then hop into the car, normally confirming the destination, and off they go.

    No money is exchanged because of the mutual benefit: the car driver needs riders just as much as the slugs need a ride. Each party needs the other in order to survive. Normally, there is no conversation unless initiated by the driver; usually the only words exchanged are "Thank you" as the driver drops off the slugs at the destination.

  2. #2
    Never heard of it. Don't know that I'd want to do it. Of course, I try to limit my journeys into the DC area anyway. Most of the time, I'll just drive my car (by myself!) to the Metro station and zip in to town if I have to go.

    I dunno though, it seems like it's a decently-evolved thing. I guess if it works... *shrug*

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    this has been going on forever....never done it, but have seen the lines before.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    If I drove I'd ask to be hit up for some cash
    (mulling over one of those third-row seat SUVs...)

    planner hat on/ Seriously though, I hope this is a trend that continues. Maybe it could even be enhanced by the internet and a more organized system of park-and-ride meetups. planner hat off/

  5. #5
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    That is kind of neat, but may not take off in the wild west.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  6. #6

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    I've heard that transit hates it -- but that any sort of carpooling can be viewed as direct competition for public transit.

    I know there are websites devoted to slugging hotspots.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Haven't we seen that before?

    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    I saw This article today and it blew my mind.

    Any cyburbanites slugged?
    Isn't that called HITCHHIKING?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally posted by Masswich View post
    Isn't that called HITCHHIKING?
    I guess "slugging" is a hip term for it, but it's different than hitchhiking in that:

    "sluggers" assemble in the same locations every day and queue up, like at a bus stop (some slugging actually occurs at or near transit facilities, essentially to travel a set route, most often along an HOV route.

    Essentially the practice allows SOVs to become HOVs, allowing them to "cheat" the penalty for driving an SOV in the HOV lane, hence the term "slugging" from slug (fake) coins used to avoid paying fares.

    But to answer your main question, yes, we have seen this thread before.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    In my old job, I used to be a planner and HOV Coordinatorfor the state highway admin in MD. I took a trip down to Woodbridge, VA to see this slugging phemonenon. It's rather interesting. As you may have saw in the website, there are a system rules in place to ensure safety. For instance, you (slug) or you (driver) have the right to refuse anyone. A woman cannot be the last person in line. There's no talking by the slug unless spoken to first. No smoking, no touching of radio and windows... The whole point is to be able to get in the HOV lanes on I-395 in VA which are HOV2+ or the HOV lanes on I-66 which are HOV3+.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  10. #10
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    I saw This article today and it blew my mind.

    Any cyburbanites slugged?

    I had never heard of this, but I think it's a great idea. I would do it if I worked in a big city. Isn't it interesting though, that it has taken on one of the problems of our society where only the driver is supposed to initiate conversation. We can't even talk to each other when we're sitting a few inches away. It's like, "Okay, I'll put up with your dumb a$$ for the duration of the ride, but I don't have to talk to you."
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
    - Metallica

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Interesting!

    I'm sort of ambivalent to it - I'm not sure whether it is good or bad for the city's transportation system. I could think of arguments that go both ways.

    [Anti-Slugging]
    The purpose of HOV lanes is to reduce single-occupancy auto-use by combining the potential occupants of two (or more) s.o. vehicles into one multi-occupant vehicle. Instead, slugging combines one potential single-occupant with one or more potential transit rider. Therefore there are exactly the same number of cars on the road, but fewer transit riders.

    In the worst case scenario, slugging could actually increase freeway congestion in two ways. 1) Drivers who pick up slugs have an easier commute in the HOV lane, whereas if they did not have this option, they might've switched to transit. 2) Increased congestion in the HOV lane discourages genuine carpoolers, who revert to single-occupancy driving.

    On the other hand...

    [Pro-Slugging]
    Slugging gives transit riders more options, thus discouraging them from "sliding" over to car use. They can pick up a ride, or if that doesn't work out, take the train as usual. If they did not have the option to slug, they would get so fed up with the slowness of transit that they would just switch back to driving. Thus the overall effect of slugging is to keep people car free with all its attendant benefits to the city.

    Anyway, that's all a bunch of hypothetical claptrap, my real question is: have any planning/transportation researchers come up with a research design to test these claims? Any studies out there?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by unless View post
    Increased congestion in the HOV lane discourages genuine carpoolers, who revert to single-occupancy driving.
    To me sluggers are "genuine carpoolers." Picking someone up at a park and ride lot and driving downtown together is still carpooling. In fact, many park and ride lots were built with that purpose in mind.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    To me sluggers are "genuine carpoolers." Picking someone up at a park and ride lot and driving downtown together is still carpooling. In fact, many park and ride lots were built with that purpose in mind.
    Umm, yeah, now that I look at it "genuine carpoolers" was very loaded terminology. I'll put it this way. You could split carpoolers up into two classes, depending on what they would be doing if they weren't carpooling (trying to be arbitrary here): Class N are those who would be driving their own single-occupancy vehicles, and Class M are those who would not be doing that (they would be on transit, in other carpools, etc).

    The question is whether the participants in slugging (both drivers and sluggers) are Class N or Class M carpoolers. If they are Class N, congestion is reduced, and if they are Class M, it is not reduced and may even get worse.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Yes slugging is a big hit here in DC that seems to work best in areas where mass transit aka Metro does not run ie along 95/395 or is a much longer ride than most folks are willing to put up with when you count the various transfers. One thing many folks don't realize is that Metro does not serve a large part of the DC area so commuters are forced to find other ways to get to work. Never mind if you live on some Metro lines its too crowded at peak times to even get on in many places.

    Slugging is very respected, organized and condoned by the area Transportation boards. I have not used it but many of my friends do every day.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  15. #15
    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
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    I used Casual Carpool about once or twice a week when I was commuting from the East Bay to San Francisco this past summer... this was more for the experience than to save money, and the CC stop was at a BART station, so I could always take transit if the lines were long.

    Like in DC, don't speak unless spoken to. Most CC drivers listen to NPR, although I did get some Jesus radio. Also wound up in an insanely filthy car once. And one time I was the literal third wheel. Awkward.

    Since I'm not from California, CC afforded me with views of SF as the fog began to clear and definitely gave me something to talk about when returning for a second year of planning school.

    I don't know if I'd be a regular user (I <3 transit) but it is a fun experience every once in a while.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Wasn't there a brouhaha a few years back with the police closing down the D.C. slug lines for a few days?

    I love BART, but it sure can't compete with the ride across the Bay Bridge for visual stimulation!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    I've been here 6 years and don't know of any slug shut down. Kind of hard to do when its an organized anarchy of sorts that crosses 2 state lines and of course the District itself.

    There has been talk of how slugging will be impacted by the new HOT lanes, the local governments agreed to build more parking areas to encourage slugging near the HOT lanes to dampen any fears
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Maybe it's been more like 10 years, but I could swear I remember hearing about it on NPR at the time. They tried it for a few days, then had to back off, IIRC.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    I have heard of it...can't say that I have "slugged" though. :-]
    The police are not here to create disorder. The police are here to preserve disorder. -Mayor Richard Daley

  20. #20

    Could slugging become more common as gas goes up?

    Now that gas is at a perpetual rise, is there a potential for this slugging phenomenon to spread beyond the original purpose of using the HOV lanes?

    Not to get too out there, but it seems like if gas prices went really crazy, that people would adapt long before the government does (imagine that) and would come up with some rather creative ways to ride share or something like that.

    Any ideas on this?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally posted by supergeek1313 View post
    I used Casual Carpool about once or twice a week when I was commuting from the East Bay to San Francisco this past summer... this was more for the experience than to save money, and the CC stop was at a BART station, so I could always take transit if the lines were long.

    Like in DC, don't speak unless spoken to. Most CC drivers listen to NPR, although I did get some Jesus radio. Also wound up in an insanely filthy car once. And one time I was the literal third wheel. Awkward.

    Since I'm not from California, CC afforded me with views of SF as the fog began to clear and definitely gave me something to talk about when returning for a second year of planning school.

    I don't know if I'd be a regular user (I <3 transit) but it is a fun experience every once in a while.
    I have classmates that do this as well, in order to get from the East Bay to SF to take transit. It's definitely a cool idea, one that I thought of and then realized it already existed. That seems to happen all the time

  22. #22
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Are there class differences in the slugging system or is everyone middle class?

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