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Car pooling: how about government facilitating it?

We always talk about how good it will be if people opt for car pooling while commuting to office. Although most of us agree that car pooling is a great idea, not many of us actually get to do it. There can be many reasons for it, which mostly relate to people either not wanting to share their car or not bothering to find someone to share it with.

Given this problem, I think it would make more sense for the government to come forward and facilitate car-pooling for the people.

The basic idea:
The idea is pretty simple and is borrowed from the shuttle service that is run by the bigger IT companies:

  • People need to register for the service online as from where to where they want to travel and at what time
  • The software can then group people based on the location and the time at which they want to travel. Given the population of Bangalore, I'm sure there are very good chances of people traveling from the same location, whose work timing and location match
  • So based on the grouping, the cars can be dispatched to the respective areas to pick up people at the respective time.
  • Same would be the case when people want to return from work

For the service to be feasible and for the people to be really interested in it, it should be affordable, comfortable and efficient. The following are a few things (there can be many more) that can be done to ensure the same:

  • The cars used should have A/c with comfortable seating and should carry a few copies of the famous magazines and news papers
  • The service should be such that people are picked up as close to their house as possible and dropped exactly where ever they want to go
  • The picking up time should be ensured as much as possible with a possible delay of not more than 10 minutes, and based on the time of the hour(depending on the traffic), an approximate drop off time should also be conveyed to the passengers at the time of their registration.
  • The charges should not be more than 4-5 rupees/km, with a minimum of 30-40 rupees per-trip/per-head
  • There can also be monthly/quarterly registration, and there should be a concession if registered for higher duration. There should be a way to cancel the registration midway as well, and the charges be adjusted accordingly and the money reimbursed. There should not be any human intervention and all of this should happen online to ensure efficiency and promptness.

Private involvement:
Although the software and the website still has to be monitored by the government, the cars and their drivers can that be of private players. For example, in the same website, there can be a separate registration page for people who may want to register their vehicles to be used for this service. Or may be the government can take bids from private companies who may want to run the car pooling service entirely.

Of course, the government needs to make sure the vehicle-owners/private-companies are getting good ROI by giving them a healthy share of the profit (per trip basis may be).

The minimum specification of the cars (A/c, cushioning, etc) should be specified for the cars to qualify for this service. Also, may be they can give them higher profits if they run on zero-pollution fuel like LPG or CNG.

After effects:
If successfully implemented, government can then find ways to discourage people from using their own 4-wheeled commutation to work. For example, on the week days, during the peak hours (say 8:30am-10:30am and 6:00pm-8:30pm), 4-wheelers carrying say less than 3 people can be fined. Zero-pollution vehicles can probably be excused.

This way, I think the traffic can be drastically reduced and the pollution levels can also be brought down. Also, people who do not own cars can also have the privilege of commuting comfortably in cars. 

P.S. I had this idea on car pooling and I was not sure where to express it. Recently I came to know of this website from a friend. I'm glad to know there is one such place where people can express their thoughts and also track the progress of the public works going on in Bangalore.

[PS: Formatted this nice post, no editing done {blrd_editor}]

shas3n's picture



welcome to praja. Your post brings up a lot of interesting things.

Firtly, as you recognise, the reason people do not use public/shared transport is because its unreliable, uncomfortable and there is no last mile connectivity.

Your plan seems to address all of these and it is interesting to see what the practical implications/limitations would be.

But why do you think there should be a government intervension in the whole process?

BTW, there are a lot of posts here on praja which offer various ways of addressing last mile connectivity. I am sure you will find them interesting to read.



sandeepsp's picture

Government facilitation

Hi Shastri,

Thanks for the response.
There are quite some reasons why I thought it would be better facilitated by the government.

- The major reason is for the "After Effects" section above. If government has to discourage people from using private transport(4-wheeled) to work by imposing some rules against it, then they have to boast of an alternate service.
And I strongly think that people should be discouraged from using cars to work. Considering the rate at which the vehicle population is increasing, no amount of road widening or infrastructure development can solve the problem on a long run. People have to be made to use public transport and people will not do it until it is reliable, affordable and comfortable.

- If it is under government control, affordability will always be taken into consideration. Say, tomorrow the fuel price is hiked, the rates of this service don’t have to change much, by the government bearing some of the losses (or making less profit may be). If it is under private control, the rates can never be kept under check. And there is always a possibility of the private companies giving the service initially for cheap and then hiking the rates once people are used to it.

- If suppose this service is a hit and in order to increase its efficiency/reliability even more, government can introduce separate lanes for the 'pooled cars' during the peak hours(like we have auto-lanes now), there by making sure they are not stuck in traffic-jams and reach their destination faster compared to the other vehicles on road. This will be another important incentive for people to opt for this service.

- Finally, the idea is for this to be perceived as a public transport service, a new age public transport may be, like the Metro, where you have comfort & reliability which come with the major benefit of public transport - affordability. This way, I think people's perspective on public transport may change and they might actually be encouraged to consider it more often for commuting.

Note that I'm saying the government only needs to facilitate this service. It doesn't have to buy all the cars needed. It probably can ask for bids from private companies who may want to participate in this. The private players contribute their cars (and may be the drivers too) and in return they get good profit out of it. Of course, government needs to make sure the money that they get in return is enticing enough for them to participate in this. The private players don’t necessarily have to be registered companies. Even common people can contribute their cars and make money out of it. Of course, the minimum specification of the cars needs to be specified by the government like A/c, cushioning, etc… Also, if they can impose zero pollution fuels to be used in these cars, they can also keep pollution under check.



Ravi_D's picture

Calling Murali Sir!...

Interesting idea indeed...  I think you should patent it :)

I'm not sure of goverment involvement. Idea is to try and get more people to use one vehicle (reduced cost is an after effect). If fuel prices increased, they would have paid to fill up their tanks anyway!

Murali Sir: Do you think M/s Tatas and TVSs are interested in something like this? Kind of a glorified Volvo service meant to cater to fairly regular officegoers.

Will there be enough business here in Bangalore for this to be viable?



ThinkingCap's picture

Great Idea


Thats a great idea and moreover it sounds very practical. The need of the hour is for some reputed agency to take up this idea to fruition!

Indeed, if implemented, many office goers would breathe a sigh of relief! ;)

Vasanth's picture

Great Idea

This is a great idea. Mini buses such as mini Tata airconditioned star buses can also be run in this way. If Tatas and TVSs or our SRS or VRL, if they can start their service this way, it would reduce the cars. They are pretty comfortable. Our company runs Swaraj Mazdas. Seats are very uncomfortable and designed to sit the 'school going babies'. Timing of the office buses is very inconvenient. Hence most of the people do not use the company buses. Only those who do not know driving (luckily we have such ladies and few gents also) use this facility to get rid of expensive auto fare. Autos in front of the company demand too high. We go to the parallel road to Bannerghatta road and catch the auto there.

silkboard's picture

Airlift type company?

Airlift like things are essentially commercial applications of carpool, right? Wouldn't they be interested in doing more than just BIAL cab-pools?

I suspect they will be denied a license for running generic cab-pool service as that will be deemed a threat to BMTC, and to autorickshaw mafia. Or probably not, it will be just be a city-taxi like thing, but a bit smarter business model that will fetch them regular users. Such a thing may just  empty out BIAL's Volvos, but will it? BMTC's Vajra Volvos are seeing 50% load on their way up to BIA, and 80% load on their way down (heard from BMTC in a BCIC meeting). This despite Airlift etc being around for competition. Either the alternatives to Vajras aren't good enough, or the market itself is big enough to accommodate everyone.

BTW, I hope you guys know about

Ashwin Mahesh's mapunity too has a carpool application. Haven't checked it out though.

So what you want to happen is, two thing:

  • Govt allows commercial carpool services,with bigger vehicles, Innova or larger
  • Commuteeasy type service merges or collaborates with Airlift like thing

How is that?

If some tech guys are game, we can build a carpool application right here on Praja. Will need 2-3 engineer folks, not more.

murali772's picture

Yes, Ravi

Yes, Ravi. If the government lets go its stranglehold, TATAs, TVS, you and me will come up with innovative options which can then be assessed by BMLTA (in the role of the regulator - of course, it needs to be broadbased than at present), and licensed if found viable.

The government has to be made to accept that it is public interest and not the interest of a public sector (and a monopoly, at that) that is supreme.

Muralidhar Rao

PS: You get government to do that, and I'll ask Mamta Didi to put me onto Ratan :)))

Muralidhar Rao
sandeepsp's picture


Thanks for the encouraging responses! 

Building the software for this is definitely important, but probably the easiest of the things involved…

The tougher part would be approaching the government and convincing them of its viability.

If not the government, even if some of the established companies can take it up, it would probably meet the purpose as noted by most of you. Approaching them and convincing them may be a little tough but not impossible.

Your suggestions on how to take it forward would be helpful.

- Sandeep

sanchitnis's picture

Sandeep I am fully for this

Sandeep, I am fully for this idea as it is mine too :-) (see my earlier post at proposing exactly the same). The only difference is that I did not require the web site to be owned by Government. The best way to go forward is to influence BMTC to start this service. BMTC can own the website and start 'new routes' based on the registrations on this websites. BMTC will need help to develop the application and we should work with mapunity (who I think are already providing route info) or commuteeasy. Sanjay comment guidelines

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