“Slugging”—a form of hitchhiking to take advantage of the carpool lane—has evolved into a highly organized commuting system in the Washington, D.C. metro area, according to a report in The Waterline.
The free system, begun around 1971, brings drivers and commuters (slugs) together at designated pickup points. Single drivers who want to travel in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes into the city pull into one of 24 designated areas and pick up a passenger heading in the general vicinity.
Drivers and slugs say an hour commute can be shaved to 25 minutes by using the carpool lane.
For the evening ride home, sluggers can make individual pick-up arrangements with drivers via the Internet or join a regular slug line.
On the off chance a slug gets stranded, Commuter Connections, a regional network of transportation organizations, offers the 'Guaranteed Ride Home' program. The group offers a free ride home four times a year in the event of unscheduled overtime or a personal emergency for members that use van and carpools, mass transit, cycle or walk to work. The group is not officially affiliated with any slug network.
The system is governed by a set of rules, and drivers and riders are expected to adhere to a slugging etiquette (Don't speak unless you're spoken to; no eating, drinking or cell phones.)
Reports of bizarre or threatening encounters are rare, according to The Waterline.
Participants can join a general "Slug Group" mailing list through www.slug-lines.com