Blogathon: Carpool your way to solve the Traffic Problem in Your City

Five years ago, it used to take me 40 minutes to reach IIT Gate from Gurgaon (even in a Roadways bus) in rush hour traffic. Today – it is at least 1hr 15mins or upwards to traverse the same distance.

Let me first make an appeal first – we should try and figure out what we can do to help the traffic condition in the city instead of whining about what the government should do to solve the traffic problem in the city. Whether it is (a) the public transport system b) Introducing a road tax  c) Better Roads d) Fining errant drivers – all these processes are basically time-consuming because of either infrastructural requirements or political and systemic issues. Thus, till some of these actually do come to pass, we should look for solutions within our current set of constraints.

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An interesting poster from Wikipedia
I think one great way to do it, is to enage in carpools. In my perspective – and I might be underinformed here, carpooling is not terribly popular in and around Delhi (simple empirical evidence includes the sheer number of cars with lone drivers) – whatever car pools there might be – are probabaly within the domains of a college or organisation – which is hardly car pooling because in that case you are just sharing rides with your friends.

 

What I perceive as a carpool is something that I experienced in Germany, when I had to take a ride from Dresden to Berlin. There you have a website called mitfahrgelegenheit.de [I know, no point trying to pronouce it]. The premise is really simple – say I have a car and am driving to Berlin from Dresden – I post that on the website, interested people can call me, and then join me for the ride upon sharing the fuel cost.

Here, as an occasional commuter – I have hardly had the chance to carpool.

I think there is a definite opportunity there which has not been fully tapped.

Some top-of-mind issues which a carpooling service will need to tackle:

1] Besides round-the-week travel which is more structured, it should also be able to cater to occasional commuters.

2] Security is of utmost concern – especially for women.

3] A way for the concerned parties to communicate easily.

4] Finding coherent routes. Say if I drive from Gurgaon to GK-II, I can have people who might want to get off at intermediate stops

5] Coordinating time: With the Indian Standard Time ruling supreme, impunctuality on one person’s part can ruin it for the other person.

So far I know of two variants of carpooling services that exist online. One is a general format where an Auto Classified website also has carpooling as a section. For example, Indimoto carpool section. Here you can post whether you want a ride, or can give one – which are chronologically arranged as forum posts (they look like cheap ads). Issues: the postings are few and extremely infrequent, they primarily cater to round-the-week travel. 

Another much more sophisticated variant is KoolPool. It’s membership bases – so secure and uses SMS to communicate (and even match routes I think). Though they seem to have not signed up very many people (764 in all – assuming 3 per car now and 1 per car before – that’s only about 510 vehicles off the road), even though I first heard of them launching in 2006. But so far it’s only in Mumbai and Pune.

So, I think there is much to be done here: How about a KoolPool variant for Delhi/NCR? How about a Facebook app which enables carpool within a network? How about a mitfahrgelegenheit.de variant?

Whatever it might be, carpooling can definitely be a faster solution than government reforms to at least reducing the traffic problem in our cities if not solving it.

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7 thoughts on “Blogathon: Carpool your way to solve the Traffic Problem in Your City

  1. Yogesh Saini says:

    Dear Ashish, you had written very well. Had you gone through all the existing sites on CARPOOLing in India? As you mentioned only about two. Is there no other exists / heard about / not up to the mark or do you think these two are the best?
    Looking forward for words…

  2. Ashish says:

    Hey Yogesh, I did a google search on Carpooling Delhi. On the first page there was Indimoto and some others – for example there is a Kijiji community which seems active and sites like poolon.com and carpool.in. So the intent and the need is there – but I didn’t come across a organised and impressive portal/site. Perhaps I will try out some of these and see how well they work.

    KoolPool is something I came across at a conference in 2006.

    I just did a preliminary search – so I’m sure there are more, I’d really like to know if there are any ones who have managed to achieve any significant results.

  3. SVA Search says:

    True there isnt a consolidated carpooling site out there which is searchable …The problem with classified sites like quickr and others is that, you hav to go through a million postings before finding the right carpool…Keeping that in mind, i just started this website http://www.svasearch.com . The reception so far has been phenomenal…more than 50 people hav found rides using the site in the last one month . Thanks !

    Hopefully it becomes the one stop solution to all our Carpooling needs

  4. Smita says:

    Another very good option available is called the easy2commute.

    I vouch for this service as I have used it.

    The link – http://easy2commute.com/

  5. Roadsharing.com is a website dedicated to making single occupant cars a thing of the past.
    If you want to hitch a free ride in a car share, get involved in car-pooling, or hitch-hike, roadsharing.com is for you.

  6. bhaskar says:

    If you are planning to travel on highways during weekends and Festival seasons to reach your hometown..Then register with http://www.CoYatri.com, a startup which is working in the space of Inter-City carpooling to meet the need of travel mainly during weekends and festival seasons

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