Whenever I take an early morning flight, I call a Meru/Easycabs cab. My home, in Bangalore, is about 50 kilometers away from the Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL). Average cab fare is about Rs. 800. I see hundreds (if not more) of cabs going towards the airport in the morning…and most of them have a single occupant!

Now, I’m completely aware of things like privacy and city-centric worries on security, but I’m just wondering if an app would help in car pooling for longer distance, intra-city travel.

There are car pool sites in India (like CommuteEasy, that was started by a ThoughtWorks employee), but what I’m imagining works something like this.

  1. You book your cab via usual modes – phone/sms etc.
  2. You go the app interface – on Facebook/LinkedIn may be?; definitely not on an open network like Twitter, though – and enter your cab boarding time and destination.
  3. Alternatively, you can enter the time and destination you need.
  4. The app needs to match your need or your details (that you entered as booked time and destination) and gives you a list of people that may fit the same route and timing.
  5. You decide who you want to invite to share your cab!
  6. Mobile interface is perhaps a must, given how little time we usually have in between booking such rides and taking them.

Problems?

  1. You value your privacy – pooling be damned. I understand. This app is not for you.
  2. Security is a massive issue. What if the guy I’m going to share the cab with is a nut…terrorist, etc.? Fair question. That is the reason why this is not a standalone site and is part of an existing, closed-user network like Facebook or LinkedIn. You choose who you want to share the ride with, based on your own judgement of their profiles…to whatever extent you can view those profiles on the network. If you see a decent enough profile, why not give it a try?
  3. Would cab brands like Easycabs and Meru agree to this? May not, initially. But, it’s your ride and you decide who you pick, on the way…not out of the way. They could eventually adopt this service, if it works efficiently, you know!
  4. Feasibility? I’m talking just about Bangalore – what if you include all metros and other leading cities in India? A few hundred users per day? Ideally, the app, as a service, needs no sustenance. It is user-run, after the initial launch. It will do as good…or bad, as users find benefits.

Advantages?

  1. Cab fee gets cut – this is the least of my concerns, however.
  2. Fuel is saved. A simple example: Two people traveling to catch the same damn flight in an almost similar route need not take 2 separate cabs. Personal issues of welcoming a stranger in my cab aside, there needs to be a sensible and simple option to make car pooling viable.
  3. Random advantage #1: taking social networking offline, for whatever its worth.
  4. Random advantage #2: choosing who you share your ride with and save cost and fuel at the same time. The choice may not work always, but at least you did something teeny-weeny for the environment!

I’m also aware that there is a Facebook app named ZimRide (app | site) that pretty much does what I’ve explained above (though I haven’t tried it yet). Not in India, though or…has limited Indian users. May be an India centric app, adopted/created by a fuel brand (HP?) or even an automobile brand could help in their CSR PR?

Comments

comments

10 thoughts on “Would you mind sharing that cab to the airport?

  1. I stay in Nashik, where the nearest international airport is in Bombay, 180 km away. What a car service provider does here is books 4 people who want to go to the Mumbai airport around the same time, and drives them in 5 hours. Fair enough, cuts costs and gives him business.

  2. I have always thought bout carpooling as a business idea, to bootstrap and start. It may not work for a few reasons:

    1. One time options like airport travel do not provide the scale

    2. Locked-in options like monthly carpool to workplaces would be a scheduling nightmare (given our Indian ability to set expectations especially about time)

    3. The stress of finding a carpool option and making it work on a daily basis is more than the benefit of money saved (which in airport trips, would be paid by the company)

    Ashwin
    http://www.ashwinramasamy.com

    1. Agree to all 3 points. That's why I suggested this as a CSR spin for a larger brand, like say, Bangalore International Airport Limited or a fuel brand like HP. It cannot afford to be a business – I'm not recommending a startup idea – this can only exist as a self-service app utilizing information from existing networks…on auto-pilot.

  3. Can sense the frustration which everyone shares about the manic congestion on our roads. We at Indimoto.com are doing our bit and enabling commuters to find carpool partners across India as a part of our green initiative.

    We are also partnering with large organisation for a ‘Corporate Carpool Programme’ which is a CSR activity for them and a win-win situation for all. Do visit us at http://www.indimoto.com to know more about our carpool initiative.

  4. Distance of Bangalore International airport from city is too much and cabs is the only good option. Buses is there but they charge Rs 200 per head. So if four people hiring a cab for Bangalore airport is right. Cab also reach you airport faster than bus. So i think hiring cab is always better than bus.

  5. @beastoftraal:disqus : While searching if there such solutions are available to airport for cab-sharing found one on facebook. The group is “Carpool & Rideshare Bangalore (& Mysore)” (www.facebook.com/groups/banagalorecarpool/ , let me inform you that link may or may not work, I’d rather advice directly searching in search box of Facebook).
    This should make your airport journeys easier. It has worked for me.

  6. I have also wondered why such a service does not exist and starting one precisely for that. We are called http://rideshare.co/. As mentioned the airport cab share can not become a full fledged business on its own so we are giving it a twist. People can compare different Airport Cabs like Mega, Your Cabs, Ola etc. and book and share it with other passengers going on the same route. So it always gets the passenger the cheapest cab to Airport – Match or mo match.

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