The rolling out of Delhi government’s ambitious odd-even vehicle scheme might pose difficulties for commuters but a host of carpool mobile apps are expected to come to their rescue as Delhiites open up their car doors for other passengers on the same route.
Host of mobile applications such as Orahi, Ibibo Ryde, BlaBlaCar allow people to sign up and start offering or availing rides from a list of commuters going in the same direction.
“The odd-even scheme will surely bring the concept of carpooling into public consciousness which despite its obvious benefits of reduced fuel costs and ability to reduce congestion, has never really taken off in the city.
“It is difficult to travel in overcrowded metros and buses once we are used to comfort of private cars but then the traffic congestion and pollution are harmful byproducts of that comfort, so carpool is the middle way out,” said Bineet Chatterjee, who carpooled to Noida today from Gurgaon.
Sapna Shukla, a school teacher in Ghaziabad said, “the introduction of odd-even formula and availability of technology-based carpool options have brought the concept of carpooling to the mainstream for the first time. Even government has proposed it to be one of the viable options not only for the odd-even experiment but also in general”.
Both informal and organised carpooling can be a viable option for those who don’t want to get off their cars and get into a public transport bus or metro.
Taxi apps like Uber and Ola have also entered the rideshare segment. They are offering shared taxi rides within cities.
“Odd-even policy has pumped up our registrations substantially. We are expecting to manage around 400-500 carpool trips daily. We work on a cashless system where passengers are supposed to pay online so there is no hassle of exchanging cash after each ride,” said Honey Monga, Alliance Manager of Orahi.
Raghav Gupta, country manager at BlaBlaCar said, “we have 25,000 seats on offer and in Delhi-NCR and this weekend onwards we expect this to go up tremendously”.
Shuttl, a bus aggregating platform offering shuttle bus service that launched this year, is also adding more buses to its existing fleet for commuters during the odd-even days.
While carpooling is being seen as a good option, there are concerns from women about how efficient the real-time service would be for regular commuters who prefer pre-planned trips.
“The option is better than travelling in jam-packed metro train but how safe carpooling is, is a matter of concern for girls especially. Since you are travelling with strangers in a carpool, that fear will always be there at the back of our mind,” said Swati Babber, a college student.
Nidhi Khurana, an IT professional said it will be further helpful if companies enter into some carpooling agreements with cab services for its employers.
“Two major stakeholders – employers and government agencies can play a major role in promoting carpools. The government should frame a carpool promotion policy laying down ground rules for commercial carpools and to avoid legal or regulatory hurdles,” she said.