As the residents of Delhi NCR wrack their brains over the odd-even car number rule slated to start from January 1, there is muted celebration among car pooling apps and websites.
They are celebrating because not allowing half the cars on the road will certainly increase pooling. But the celebration is muted because they would have liked the Delhi government to have plumped for pooling, which has the potential to keep more cars off the road than the odd-even rule.
“This week we are having conversations with the government to see how car pooling can reduce the burden on public transport, which is already choked,” said Nitish Bhushan, the India head of Brazilian car pooling service Tripda, which set up shop in India about a year ago. Bhushan, all the cars in whose family are even numbers, says Google searches on car pooling in Delhi are 80% more than this time last year.
Raghav Gupta, the India head of French car pooling start-up BlaBlaCar, is just as upbeat. “My sense is that we will see a lot more people using our service for intra-NCR commute, since there will not be an immediate increase in public transport capacity. Daily commute is predictable travel, and therefore easier to plan. You also know which car will be allowed on which day.”
BlaBlaCar now has 15,000 seats available for intra-NCR commute and expects robust demand for those. For Tripda, 60% of its rides are for intra-NCR commute. Bhushan expects this to rise to 70%, even 80%, as soon as the odd-even rule comes in.
The French and the Brazilian outfits have been focusing more on inter-city travel, but plan to beef up their marketing and promotion for intra-city commute.
sRide, on the other hand, is already dedicated to intra-city commute, but its bastion is Hyderabad, and its presence in the NCR is limited. That may change soon.
“We have already started working on a communication and marketing plan for Delhi,” said Nitin Chadha, the COO of sRide. “Odd and even will reduce the number of cars by two. Car pooling can reduce it by four, and you don’t need any additional infrastructure.”