February 05 2013

From Carpooling to Transit: A Multimodal Carpooling Application in Montréal, Canada

Netlift website homepageIn low-density environments, carpooling has long been touted as a sustainable transportation alternative. However, in practice it is difficult to realize. Rarely do multiple people have the same origin and destination – and even when they do, this does not hold for every day of the week. This is attributable to our increasingly flexible work schedules, work days that extend beyond the traditional nine to five, parental commitments to drive children to various activities, and suburban neighborhoods that sprawl out in every direction from the city center.

However, what if you could connect with another person for one leg of one trip – to or from public transit, for instance? What if this trip and payment to the driver could be arranged using your mobile phone?

Carpooling Parking Spots at John Abbott College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec

Netlift is a multimodal carpooling platform that allows people to connect to arrange carpooling, but includes bus, metro, and train lines. It allows drivers to set a fare and for payment to be completed using mobile phones. The application also calculates the greenhouse gas emissions that are saved by each car trip avoided. It takes the most convenient part of carpooling (two people going in the same direction), and eliminates the problem of those two (or more) people having different destinations on different days.

Hesitant to get into a car with a stranger? The application has a 0 to 100 rating system, so negative experiences can be reported and those users avoided by future drivers and passengers. The founders are also exploring the possibility of connecting people via their social networks. This would mean carpooling with a friend of a friend (of a friend, perhaps) instead of a complete stranger, which increases users’ sense of security.

Can carpooling work as a sustainable mode of transportation?  Does it work in your city? Could this mobile application, that combines carpooling with transit lines, get people out of their cars and sharing a ride to the nearest transit line?

Credits: Photograph by Devon Paige. Image and data linked to sources.

Devon Paige Willis

Devon Paige Willis is a native Montrealer and recent graduate of McGill University where she did her B.A. in Environment and Political Science. She discovered a passion for urban and transportation planning in her final year, during which time she attended UC Berkeley’s [IN]City introductory urban planning program and completed her honours thesis about cycling in Montreal, specifically measuring bikeability and understanding what affects cyclist satisfaction. She will pursue a Master of Urban Studies called 4Cities starting in September 2013. The Masters takes place in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid and focus on European Urban Planning. She will be focusing on sustainable transportation and is especially interested in urban planning and transportation in suburban environments. She has her own urban planning blog at iliveinthesuburbs.wordpress.com.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 at 9:52 am and is filed under Environment, Environmental Non-Profit, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “From Carpooling to Transit: A Multimodal Carpooling Application in Montréal, Canada”

  1. Athina Kyrgeorgiou Says:

    Very interesting article! I am writing about carpooling too next week in Athens, Greece.
    I find very intriguing, the carpooling connection via social networks. Like you wrote, even if you don’t know the person you’ll share a car with, you know that he is a friend of a friend and you feel more secure.

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