Cashing in on empty car seats

30 March 2015 10:37 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Tehan recently opted for a new way to reach Colombo from Galle, his hometown : He skipped the train ride and hopped in a car pool he had booked on his mobile phone.

“It takes less time, and the price is great” said Tehan.

The 28-year-old executive of a private company in Colombo is one of a growing number of people working in the metropolis who are relying on ride-sharing to travel to or from their hometowns. Introducing this new service is a homegrown startup called road.lk, providing a more earth-friendly way of transport by having more people using one vehicle which reduces each person's travel costs such as fuel costs, tolls, and the stress of driving. Carpooling is seen as a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to travel as sharing journeys reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion on the roads, and the need for parking spaces.

Though new in Sri Lanka, carpooling services have been in existence in the US and Europe as far back as the mid 20th century.  In 2009, carpooling represented 43.5% of all trips in the United States and 10% of commute trips.

Since its inception this March, road.lk's carpooling service has begun to pick up speed, tapping into growing interest among passengers and drivers in what economists call the “sharing economy.”  Raditha Dissanayake got the idea for a carpooling service when he read that car sales were in steady decline across Europe.

Dissanayake sarted working on a carpooling app that connected passengers and drivers. “We have been providing a traffic alerts service for two and a half years, now we are actually doing something to eliminate traffic” said Dissanayake.

To share a ride, drivers and passengers post details of their journey on the road.lk website. And the app will automatically search for matching rides. After finding a match they contact each other through the website to arrange any details for the journey(s). Meeting points and other details like space for luggage can be agreed on. They then meet and carry out their shared car journey(s) as planned. Further details can be found by logging into road.lk.

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