Congested roads belie police claim of carpooling success

Experts say people's mindset, poor economics are hindrances

Congested roads belie police claim of carpooling success
Though Bengaluru traffic police and government departments are patting themselves for making carpooling “successful” and “reducing traffic”, the ground reality seems to be different. Carpooling is still in the nascent stage in Bengaluru City.

It is not just the people’s mindset which is a hindrance but also the economics. While in carpooling, employees take turns to use their cars on particular days, many organisations, in the guise of carpooling, are promoting ‘share and pay a ride’, where users pay for every kilometre. This has not gone down well with software professionals and corporates, since it is nothing but a white board taxi.

Carpooling was officially launched by the traffic police and the Department of Urban Land Transport in October 2015. Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M A Saleem said carpooling has picked up, especially in IT areas. He says many people have switched over to carpooling and this has reduced congestion on roads leading to Manyata Tech Park, Bellandur-Iblur, Whitefield, Marathahalli and Central Silk Board. “Till March first week, 46,000 people registered to carpool with the traffic police and in the coming months we expect more,” he said.

But heads of various organisations, carpooling companies and IT professionals differ. Poornapragna, president, Outer Ring Road Companies Association, said carpooling was yet to gain momentum since people do not see any benefit from the government or their companies. “They should come up with some incentives like dedicated carpooling lanes, assured free parking and recognition from the Transport department. Companies should also offer financial rewards and appreciation to boost the morale of employees,” he says.

“There are two categories of people, environmentally conscious ones (who make up a small percentage) and the aspirational ones – first-time car owners who love to drive. Carpooling is aimed at drawing this sector. There should be some incentive,” he said.

According to R Ramachandran, president, Electronics City Industries Association, there has been no mass movement. “On an average, there are around 100-150 rides a day from Electronics City, which is very less. Some companies have been providing dedicated parking space for carpoolers, but there is no verification,” he said.

CEO and co-founder of Let’s Drive Along, Srinath S pointed out that easy availability of low-cost cab services is another hindrance. He said many taxis were found on the roads, leading to traffic congestion.

Seema Bannerji, a software professional from JP Nagar, said the safety aspect had not been addressed. “I do not want to share the car with men or at night hours with other employees from other companies. So, I leave home before 7 am and I use my car,” she said.

“I do not like to wait for my colleague at every stop for 10-15 minutes. Hence, I use my car or the bus,” said Raghava L, a manager of a leading corporate firm in Golf Links.

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