In the earlier days it was a matter of pride and a way to showcase societal status by driving one's car to office, but now it is becoming a fashion
to pool a ride, irrespective of whether one owns a vehicle or not.
This has given rise to at least a dozen carpooling platforms, wherein car owners or ride seekers just have to key in their destination from pickup location. The advent of smartphones too has contributed to the increase in carpooling seekers-givers tribe.
There are various available options, and the charges vary too. For example, Uber Pool and Ola Share charges are lesser than the usual cab tariff, but more than what other carpooling platforms levy. But the sharing fare isn't constant for the same distance and keeps varying during the entire day, depending on demand and supply. Additionally, in case of mobile-based cab aggregators, the drivers also tend to keep the passenger waiting or don't turn up, forcing the passenger to cancel the ride.
In case of SharinGo (Smart Mumbaikar), a coordinator helps in arranging for a vehicle or helps in filling up the empty seats. The levy for the service is a monthly fixed amount of Rs100 to the carpooling platform, while the travel cost on most occasions is lesser than Rs100.
"The entire coordination happens on WhatsApp groups, our financial model is suitable to one's pocket," said Raxit Sheth, founder, Smart Mumbaikar (SharinGo).
One of the advantages of carpooling is making a new set of friends. Fellow travellers have also started to meet informally over dinner.
It isn't just such platforms that have promoted carpooling concepts, helping in reducing vehicular congestion on the already congested Mumbai roads. A group of individuals informally pitch in to ferry fellow commuters to reduce one's travel cost.
"It is nearly impossible to board a suburban local from Mira Road during morning rush hours. In order to avoid trains, office goers wait at bus stops and ask for lifts. It is a win-win situation for everyone and cost-effective too.
Daily fuel costs me around Rs350 and Rs70 for toll. If I get four seats up to Andheri, I pocket a neat Rs200 (Rs50 from a co-passenger)," shared Pramod Mehta, a Mira Road resident. While returning home too, if he spots anyone, he provides lift for a price. This is how his daily travelling cost comes down by over 50 per cent to somewhere between Rs100-200, depending upon the number of co-passengers and fare charged.
Faraz C, Juhu resident who commutes daily to Mahalaxmi, shares his ride with four other friends. "We are a group of four office goers (also college buddies) and our offices are situated in nearby distances between Lower Parel and Mahalaxmi. It makes more sense to share our ride. In this manner we meet daily and also split our travel cost."
Similarly, Coast Guard officers too travel together in a common car from their residence to office and return. "As on most of the days our timings are fixed and our staff quarters are in the same area, we pool and travel together between our homes at Powai and office at Worli," said a Coast Guard officer.
Despite Mumbaikars increasingly switching over to carpooling, traffic jams continue to rise as thousands of motorists still prefer to drive solo, contributing to the rising vehicular congestion.
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