Doing the maths

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Received from Paul Bieleski on 2 November 2004:


I commend your efforts to encourage car-pooling, but I do not need it as I can walk into Nelson.

I have some advice for you:
This comes from a massey University news bulletin from way back in 1979.
It records work of Dr Robinson of the Canterbury University Maths Department.
To organise a sucessful pool needs to be organised by the people themselves.
First you call all the potential members together. If you cannot do this, the car pool will not work (according to Dr Robinson).

Now comes the mathematical determination.

Work out who is furthest from the desination, estimate the distance and call this number R
Then you decide which pair live furtherest apart, work out the distance apart, and call this S.
According to Dr Robinson if S is less than a quarter of R you certainly have a car pool. You may as well take equal turns in driving.

(He says that the savings will vary but should be better than 50% and a group of four should save 60-70%.)
If S is bigger than R, you may save petrol but the inconvenience will be excessive and a different grouping would be better.

This applies also if S is more than a half R, though in favourable circumstances a suitable pool can still be organised.

With S between a half and a quarter R, then a suitable pool can be organised, but it will need some care. The problem in constructing a car pool in this case is in making it "fair". (A pool is only fair if people think it is)

I hope this guide will be useful to you. The original reference is Canterbury University Chronicle 30 March 1979 (Ref, RN1)

Yours sincerely
Paul Bieleski, Nelson.

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