Friday, October 30, 2009

Carpooling fails to gather speed as traffic and work patterns clash

Carpooling fails to gather speed as traffic and work patterns clash

Although carpooling reduces virtually all expenses related to owing a car by sharing cars, sharing rental charges, or paying the main car owner, the concept remains unpopular in Bangalore. Shwetha S explores the reasons behind this.

Shwetha S

Amid rising petrol prices, traffic congestion, and pollution, Bangalore's commuters can carpool to save money, time and reduce stress of travel. But two years after the concept was introduced, carpooling remains a nonstarter as there are few takers.
Clash of timings, habits, and egos of carpoolers, their need for privacy, and minimum number to form the pool are some of the factors that keep carpooling in Bangalore on the slow track.
Bangaloreans work longer. If their managers tell to stay back, they can't say their carpool is waiting down.
The demands of their jobs require that they may have to come in early one day, stay late another day, and be thus flexible.
"I travel from Hebbal to Manya Tech Park along with a colleague. We were carpooling every alternate day. But sometimes due to unscheduled meetings, I had to stay back in office. This made him wait for me although his work was over. So we stopped carpooling on a regular basis. Instead, we now go according to our convenience," said Ragunath N, an IT professional.
Shiva Prakash, another IT employee, had a similar story to tell.
"I travel to Electronics City every day. Initially, we carpooled. But gradually, our timings began to clash and the commuters started to leave one by one. Now we travel alone in our cars," Prakash said.
Traffic expert MN Sri Hari explained the situation. "In Bangalore, car pooling cannot be as successful as in Mumbai or foreign countries. The main reason is different work timings of commuters. Two carpoolers working in one company may find their timings changed and they will soon leave the pool," Sri Hari said.
Muralidhar Rao, another expert, agreed.
"Car polling cannot work successfully in Bangalore or any other city in India. Sometimes, commuters may have to stay back at office for an extra hour. So others may prefer using their own car without waiting for such facility once their work is over. There may be ego clashes too. For instance, the boss may not like to travel with the subordinates," Rao said.
Some countries have introduced high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to encourage carpooling and use of public transport to combat rising traffic congestion. But in India, we do not have such facility to cut travel time.
Some commuters, who do not want to sit with people who talk, smoke, cough or sneeze too much, may prefer to drive alone. Some others may not want to share their cab with anyone as they view it as an intrusion into their privacy.
Despite the lukewarm response, carpooling firms are full of hopes.
"We have received about 15,000 carpool registrations in the city in one-and-a-half years. Although the progress is gradual, we have been receiving favourable response from commuters. We want to make the service more user-friendly by introducing SMS service. Business is picking up and it will take time to make an impact," said Vipul Kasere, founder of Commute Easy.
Carpooling cannot happen in a one-sided way. It can work successfully only by the like-minded carpoolers, said Praveen Sood, additional commissioner of police (traffic).
"Before they get into the carpooling, commuters should consider whether the timings will work. If there are 15,000 registrations, it shows carpooling is working successfully. But more than IT professionals, schoolchildren are opting for this as their timings are fixed," Sood said.
"In Mumbai, in the span of three to four years, there have been about 20,000 to 25,000 registrations in carpooling. There, the carpooling has been favourable as car-goers are less, the city is bigger than Bangalore, and most Mumbaikars prefer company while travelling longer distances. And 60% of the people travel by train in Mumbai," Sri Hari said.


At Friday, October 30, 2009 at 11:50:00 AM GMT+5:30, Blogger raghisms said...


Basically car pooling is ideal solution for the increasing traffic in Bangalore city, I feel every body goes to office at fixed timings but return is not predicted there is always delays in leaving the office there should be alternate system in case of delays.


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