In 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?
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.