Indian carpool portal on call as prices rise
Indian authorities raised petrol prices by 9.2 per cent and diesel by 6.6 per cent on Monday.india Updated: Jun 07, 2006 16:54 IST
India's first carpool website aims to get a boost from a rise in fuel prices, hoping this will lure office-goers looking to lighten the burden on their pockets.
"People are beginning to realise the benefits of a carpool. We are just bringing them together," Udit Bhandari, chief executive officer of www.indimoto.com. said on Wednesday.
Indian authorities raised petrol prices by 9.2 per cent and diesel by 6.6 per cent on Monday, the third increase in one year. Petrol now costs Rs 53.50 ($1.17) a litre in Mumbai.
Carpooling is still in its infancy in India, but those who operate the portal are trying to steer it ahead, offering free advertisement postings for potential carpoolers.
The website, which started in April, gets around 60,000 hits a month.
But there is no accurate estimate of how many people use a carpool in India.
"Rising fuel prices make shared travel more essential for people," Bhandari said.
Sunayana Mathur, a 26-year-old Delhi resident who used the website to find a co-traveller, agreed.
"It was expensive driving 15-16 km to work from home. So, I found this girl on this site. We travel together and we are now friends."
India's fast-expanding passenger vehicles market is expected to nearly double to more than two million units by 2010, feeding a massive demand for fuel and, environmentalists say, worsening air pollution.
Most Indian cities choke with pollution, blamed primarily on smoke-spewing public transport and taxis, many of which are over 20 years old.
"In the US and Canada, they encourage the use of carpool because of its multiple saving benefits -- saves oil, saves money and saves the environment," said Bhandari.
The portal also teaches potential carpoolers some etiquette.
"Do not smoke, Do not put on the music loud, Do not use abusive language and Do not drive rash," it said.
There is a word of caution too. Carpools bring together strangers. "Always be on your guard."