While carpooling is one solution, it can achieve a lot more

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Updated: September 19, 2019 7:23:42 AM

There are, though, some needless irritants that indicate the government does not fully appreciate the benefits of car-pooling; this, in fact, is what will prevent extending the usage of car-pooling beyond what it is today.

CAR pool, carpooling,  Ola, Uber,  Quick Ride, BlaBlaCar, TAXIIndeed, the process of car-pooling should be stretched to allow any car-owner to, for a fee to Ola/Uber, or any such app-based service, become a temporary driver.

Given the potential car-pooling has to reduce costs as well as congestion on the roads, and the boost this will get when used on various phone-based apps, including those like Quick Ride and BlaBlaCar, it is just as well that the central road transport ministry is in the process of finalising the guidelines for car-pooling by private car owners. While some states allow ride-sharing, others don’t; Karnataka, for instance, asked Ola and Uber to discontinue their ride-sharing as this was hurting the income of cab drivers. A central law, to that extent, should help promote uniformity in rules across states.

There are, though, some needless irritants that indicate the government does not fully appreciate the benefits of car-pooling; this, in fact, is what will prevent extending the usage of car-pooling beyond what it is today. As per the draft rules, according to The Economic Times, a maximum of four trips will be allowed per day; why limit it? The car-pooling has to be done on a no-profit-no-loss basis; apart from the fact that having someone police this makes it a cumbersome exercise, how is the no-profit fare to be determined? The guidelines also want the states to earn some money from car-pooling, according to an official ET spoke to, to ensure they have some skin in the game, and don’t block car-pooling. But, surely, the states will benefit from their roads being less congested, and pollution levels falling?

Indeed, the process of car-pooling should be stretched to allow any car-owner to, for a fee to Ola/Uber, or any such app-based service, become a temporary driver. So, while driving to the office, say, a car-owner should be allowed to accept rides along the way, and charge the standard fare for this. This defrays her costs of driving to the office, increases the pool of taxis significantly, lowers surge fares, and reduces congestion/pollution. Providing special lanes on highways/expressways for cars with more than 3 or 4 users will also encourage more ride-sharing. Attempts to promote app-based bus services, like Shuttl, will also help since buses can carry a lot more passengers. Transport unions, like those for taxis or scooters, or even buses, need to be broken since their primary job is to restrict supply to raise prices; app-based services provide an easy way to do deal with such unions, so the government must use the opportunity available.

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