Delhi jumps into car pools
Harassed by insane traffic, thousands of Delhiites have logged in to find car pools and new friends. The low petrol bills are just a bonus, they say, reports Manoj Sharma.Updated: Jun 03, 2009, 23:45 IST
Saurabh Diddi, 28, lives in Timarpur, works in Gurgaon. A senior consultant with an MNC, the 70-km drive to and from office would leave Diddi mentally and physically drained.
Two months ago he registered on a car pool website and found thee partners.
Diddi is one of the 5,000 Delhiites who have registered themselves on various car polling portals in the last three months.
Most are looking at carpools to beat the stress of driving alone on city roads.
“Driving to office used to be a pain. I would get stuck in jams, with nothing else to do but curse the increasing traffic on the roads,” Saurabh says.
“Now, driving to work is a pleasure. The car pool partners are my fast friends; we go to movies and eat out together.”
For Sanjeev Kumar, 32, a resident of Ranibagh who works with a garment company in Gurgaon, the two-hour lonely drive to Gurgaon not just burnt a hole in his pocket, but also caused a lot of stress.
So, in April he registered himself on a car pooling website. Soon, he got two companions who worked and lived in the same areas.
“Driving to Gurgaon can take a heavy toll on your body and mind,” Sanjeev says.
“Stuck in a jam in those days, I would fret and fume. Now the three of us crack jokes, sing songs and share stories.”
Oh, and Sanjeev’s petrol bill has also come down by almost Rs 6,000.
Hit the websites
What’s showing no signs of coming down, in the mean time, are the hits scored by car pool portals.
“Our website was launched in March and we already have about 1,100 registered users,” says Ambrish Bajaj, 30, who set up easy2commute .com, with friend Abhishek Rajan.
“Many users want and offer car pools, not to save money but to have someone by their side as they negotiate the maddening traffic.”
The website, a big draw with Gurgaon techies, adds about 200 users every week. And a number of them are women.
Swati Sehgal works for an electronic major in Okhla, lives in Vivek Vihar and thinks "it's completely crazy to drive alone in this city".
She registered herself on a website and offered to become car pool partners with other women who take the same route.
"I want a car pool so I can talk to someone during the long and excruciating drive. Men make for boring driving companions as they mostly talk nonsense," she says. "I made it clear the offer was strictly for women and yet so many men called up."
Swati has already got about a dozen calls, but mostly from men. Her car pool dreams are yet to take off and she is not amused.
For the wives too
There are others on the lookout for partners too, including husbands who want their wives to join a car pool.
"Driving is pretty stressful, so I am looking for a car pool for me and my wife. Both of us work at different places," says Himanshu Aggarwal, who works with an MNC in Noida.
But is it safe to have your wife join a car pool?
"Well, we would personally scrutinize the credentials of the car owner. Besides, I would prefer only female companions for my wife," Aggarwal says.
Another car pool hunter Mukesh Khandelwal, a ministry of external affairs official, says, "It's pretty distressing to drive about 70 kilometer everyday from my home in Gurgaon to my office in Chanakyapuri."
He believes it's high time the government started promoting carpools by imposing a higher toll tax on those driving alone or in chauffeur-driven cars.