MANILA, Philippines – Here’s an idea: What if you need to find a way to your destination by hitching with someone going in the same direction? How do you find that person?
Check out Tripid.ph, an online site that supports a new way of traveling: route-sharing.
“People were thinking about transportation incorrectly,” theorizes Tripid’s founder, Michael Ngo Dee. “People were always thinking in terms of how to maximize transportation assets — that meant car sharing.”
The premise is simple: to utilize an open carpooling system that involves car owners who want to rent out transportation real estate (that is, empty car seats) and passengers who have a specific need based on schedule and destination.
“We thought, ‘It would be really awesome if people could find out if there was somebody going the same direction through their phones,’ and that was basically how we started off pitching it,” Ngo Dee shares.
“We were thinking of getting everybody to become aware of how and where people are going.”
Going mobile and social
“Tripid has an open platform where passengers and drivers can bid for [the cost of] rides,” explains Ngo Dee.
The bidding for rides involves a one-time offer and counter-offer that, in a way, is settled by an agreed perceived value by both parties.
Dee illustrates: “You can actually say, ‘I want to travel from Ortigas to Makati and I’m offering a P40 payment as a passenger.’
“A driver can make a counter-offer on Tripid and say, ‘I’m willing to give you that ride for P30.’
What if another guy says, ‘I can give it to you for P100 but, guess what, I’m driving a BMW’?”
Creating a community of commuters
Tripid.ph assumes that both passengers and drivers will see the benefit from predicted schedules of trips as well as the value of integrating an actual transaction into the carpool system.
It allows a user to work within a select organization — a chosen community of users — utilizing privacy settings, and be more efficient with travel time and its related logistics.
Think of it as the social media platform of hitchhikers but in an organized, thought out, and transparent manner.
The power, though, lies in the software itself: a collaborative engine that lets users have crowdsourced options to get from point A to point B.
The first way to look at Tripid’s big idea is from the perspective of the shared expense. By sharing the ride, the cost gets distributed among the passengers in a vehicle.
But there’s more: It also assumes that there is shared responsibility in time management. One of the website’s features is Tripid Time — one clock for all to use, to enforce punctuality and eliminate excuses.
Making safety a priority
It may take a bit of a leap to embrace Tripid’s concept. After all, how do you put yourself in a stranger’s car or let someone you don’t know join you for a ride?
This is why Tripid has made it a point to put security features on the top of its list.
One key feature is the Trip Ticket functionality that requires both passengers and drivers to log the beginning and end times for the trip. The technology is, then, able to monitor a trip’s progress.
Secondly, there is a ratings feature for both parties. This feedback system helps create a more substantial description of the persons behind the profiles.
Most importantly, there is a distress feature: the Community Call.
Each Tripid user is prompted to create a list of Community Call Contacts and add that list to his profile.
“If something happens to me,” explains Ngo Dee, “I can press the Community Call button on my phone. It then extracts my location and sends an email [to the emergency contacts].”
The Community Call — as well as Tripid’s other mobile functions — has some requirements:
- The use of a smartphone
- Internet access through the smartphone
- An installed mobile browser (like Dolphin, Chrome or Safari)
Currently, Tripid on mobile is available through web browsers only.
According to Ngo Dee, “the mobile web version is like an app experience where you can view Tripid on your mobile browser. This means that the experience is shared homogeneously between iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian or BB users.”
Tripid.ph launched in February 2012 and went live in October. Though it was a quiet unveiling, the first month was instantly promising with around 400 users who signed up and more than 100 rides recorded.
This proves Tripid’s assumption that there is a need to shift the way we travel around the city.
That said, the carpooling model is still not the norm, and it may take some time for that to happen. The team behind Tripid.ph knows this and is planning to push the paradigm shift more aggressively.
Very soon, Tripid will provide its users with networks relevant to them. They may also be enticing perks, like parking slots for Tripid drivers.
For added convenience and security, Tripid is also rolling out secured mobile payments before year-end, which will provide an added safety function for all parties involved.
Needless to say, the Tripid team is planning several exciting revelations to make the commuter experience better and more enjoyable.
For Ngo Dee, however, developing Tripid goes beyond the transportation problem per se.
“It is more about my passion with mixing technology [and lifestyle]. It is more than just about commuting, but about how we can make things more efficient.” – Rappler.com