Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Can on-demand ridesharing transform the peak hour urban commute?

Recently, I had to visit Nashik by public transport on short notice. Unsurprisingly, trains were not available and buses would have taken a long time. Therefore, I tried to locate ride sharing platforms where I found a couple taking their WagonR to Shirdi, and who preferred another couple to share the ride with. By paying Rs 1,000(for self+Spouse), I got dropped off at a tariff of Rs 2/person/km, which compares favorably with car rental.

I am not new to ride sharing being a power user of Uber Pool, Ola Share, Lifto et-al. Let me explain the reason for using certain words in the blog title:
Why on-demand: For people having predictable office timings, they could generally pool with the same person or fix patterns. But for people whose exit time is not fixed, on demand platforms are the method where new supply is created.

Why peak hour? Most people who drive to office would work during the normal peak hours of the city(else office transport is provided via cabs/buses for odd hours)
Why urban? For families travelling together, ride sharing is not a viable option due to limited seats, availability of like minded people and possible reluctance by older generation. Also, the cost per seat would not be much lower than hiring an entire car. Hence, I have not considered outstation or rural travel as a use case. Also, in semi urban locations, there are share autos at very low tariffs for popular routes, and ride sharing would not be too viable there in my view
Why Commute? While there are other use cases like leisure travel, commute is the repeatable demand pattern for ride sharing, and the one where the person often commutes without family in peak hours.

The benefits are cost, flexibility, comfort, company and time savings. It better utilizes existing assets without adding new vehicles(like Uber/Ola) on the road.

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