Higher petrol prices have made car-pooling schemes more attractive to commuters and sympathetic employers, says Auckland Transport.

The agency said schemes in key commercial centres were reducing congestion and travel costs and improve staff wellbeing.

New websites are matching car drivers with passengers, allowing them to share costs and use T2 lanes and priority parking.

Carpool commuters are being rewarded with parking spots near Albany's Northern Busway station, and Bayswater and Devonport ferry terminals.

Busway manager Anthony Blom said a year's trial of cars with two or more getting priority parks started in October. "It's going very well with a high demand for the spaces."

Albany spaces have increased from 30 to 46 and are full by 8.30am. The Devonport terminal spaces doubled to 28.

Auckland International Airport won the Shell NZ Transport Award for its "lift" carpooling and public transport plan for the 12,000 who work there.

After five years, 950 staff working for 21 companies are registered car- poolers. Airport adviser Martin Fryer said pooling suited shiftworkers who lived up to an hour's drive away.

Emirates airline employee Sujit Shetty shares a ride with three colleagues on most days of the working week. "We all live close together and use the same route to the airport, so none of us has to go out of the way to pick the other members up.

"It reduces our transport costs and the airport company gives priority parking close to the terminal."

North Harbour Business Association launched "Carpool Now" late last year to reduce peak traffic congestion in an area of 1300 businesses. So far, it has registered 240 people, said project manager Sue Kohn-Taylor.

English language student Im Lye happily shares a car with two classmates at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Albany. "I carpool five days a week and I've found it to be a great way to make friends, practise my English and save money. I only pay $8 a week in petrol costs."

Auckland AUT University is encouraging its 2000 staff to leave cars at home through carpooling and ride- sharing schemes.

In one scheme, staff who give up their permanent parking spaces - which they pay for - get passes for casual parks when they need to bring a car. They are also guaranteed a ride home in case of emergency.

Shuttle services carry staff and students between remote park-and-ride facilities and its campuses in the central city, North Shore and Manukau.

A new ride-sharing service for Whangaparaoa Peninsula commuters starts on May 2 from Link Crescent, Arkles Bay, which is 41.6km from the Auckland CBD.

The Raspberry Express service offers a ride to either the city or the Albany Bus Station in return for membership and a fee.

AA PatrolWatch says the price of 91-octane petrol rose 16c a litre last month to $2.19, 95-octane is $2.25.9 and diesel is $1.66.9 a litre.