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Slugging — the impromptu carpool

Marketplace Staff Apr 14, 2008


Renita Jablonski:
It’s Monday. For most of us, it’s back to work. Another work day, another commute.

(Wild traffic noise)

That sound means it’s time for our occasional series, My Morning Commute. Today, an unusual mode of transport into the nation’s capital. It’s called slugging. For this commuter, slugging beats having to be behind the wheel.

(More traffic noises)

Gary Lindsey: I’m Gary Lindsey. I’m director of business partnerships with Partnership for Prevention in Washington, D.C., and this is my morning commute. I usually get in my car in the morning, and it’s about a five-minute drive over to the park-and-ride and I stand with other people that are looking for an impromptu car ride into work. And the big thing is, is that I save the bus fare. So, I figured last year I saved over $1,000 doing slug rides.

Slugging is kind of referred to as “casual carpooling.” Drivers usually pull up and they’ll have a sign that says “14th and New York Avenue” or “Union Station.” It’s carpooling, but you don’t have any plans to do it. You just pull up and someone jumps in the car and you’re a carpool.

The term “slug,” I thought it meant sort of like you’re living off someone else. But the term I think meant like a coin you put into a subway machine in like New York that would be not a true coin but a slug. And, hence, saving money not using real currency to get into work.

When we first moved here, a realtor said, “Well, you can slug.” And, she said, “That’s where perfect strangers jump in the car and you get in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes, the HOV lanes.” And we looked at her like what planet are you from?

Sometimes you don’t want to get in the car with people, and there’s the drivers from hell. One of them is a lady who has book on tapes. I think it’s like a romance novel and it’s up really loud and the heater’s always on high. As a slug, you can’t say, “Turn down the heat. Turn down the radio.” You just have to sit and endure it all the way into Washington.

You know, it might take almost the same amount of time to slug in as opposed to taking the bus. But, in a lot of ways, it’s more relaxed, because I’m not driving and I can do something else while I’m doing that. And so, it works out pretty well for me.

(Greeting someone at his workplace…) Morning, LeJoyce

Here I am at work, 18th and K. It’s another day in the life of commuting by Gary. (Laughs)

Jablonski: This installment of My Morning Commute was produced by Stephen Hoffman and Kat Shiffler. If you have an interesting commute, tell us about it at Marketplace.org.

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