It makes sense to carpool
MANILA, Philippines - Commuters in Metro Manila face the gauntlet of horrendous traffic, safety concerns and soaring gas prices almost on a daily basis.
There are many ways to commute, cut costs and still stay safe.
In Europe and in the US, carpooling is just one of a few ways to get not only from point A to point B, but also to use resources properly and more efficiently.
But between the very social side of the Filipino and concerns for safety, are Metro Manila residents ready for carpooling?
The Ridefind.ph team thinks so.
Ridefind.ph founders Aldritch Anderson, Kimson Wong and Carlos Gavino met in Startup Weekend Manila last April and pitched the simple concept: a website that links up carpoolers.
Anyone willing to take in carpoolers for trips to specified locations can post their ride offers to anyone looking for a ride.
Mark Conde, who pitched the same concept in the same event, became part of the Ridefind.ph team. Their concept won second place in the event.
“We decided it was better to combine our efforts and resources,” says Wong.
For Cavite resident Wong, the commute to his old Makati office starts with a long wait for a van ride. Bringing his car was also costly with gas and parking fees.
“Some good things are a result of a lot of frustration. Ridefind could be one of them,” Wong says, laughing.
Anderson, a former car owner and resident of San Francisco, California, says, “This is is part of the movement popular in the US and Europe for people to use resources more efficiently."
Strangers in a car
Part of the design of Ridefind.ph is the creation of a community of carpoolers complete with basic information and even Facebook pages.
This, Anderson said, will assure the safety of the service’s users.
“The users will have access to each other's profiles and info like where they live, where they work, who their friends are," he explains. "There is the concept of verification of people in a network."
“Pinoys are used to riding with strangers,” Wong says. "But if you know something about the other person you are riding with, then you are safer."
Anderson stresses that carpooling can work in the Philippines.
“Pinoys are a very social people. Not only is the service utilitarian; you can meet friends, do networking for your business and build a network,” he says.
Anderson adds that they want to reach out to school campuses, corporations and companies occupying an office building, where he says a network of potential users already exist.
He posits, “People in these places are already linked in a sort of social network. This makes it ideal for our service.”
But Anderson concedes that their service might have a hard time flourishing in a campus where “younger college students are used to having a car and a driver.”
The service is currently on beta as the team continues to gather feedback.
It is due to be launched in full on January 2013.
For now, as a way to encourage users, drivers are charging a fee to defray the costs of gasoline.
“Ideally, we want to make the service free. Maybe later," says Anderson. He adds that they are also working out a “credits system” to replace fees where drivers who take in carpoolers can earn credits that can be used to purchase goods and get discounts from partner-shops.
The team is also working on a mobile app that can turn their carpooling service into a real-time on-demand service where users can get a carpool ride anytime and anywhere.
Anderson says they hope to have an iOS app by year-end.
“We want not just to sell carpooling per se.
"What we are offering is collaborative consumption, a collective concept of sharing economic resources,” he adds. - Rappler.com