Carpool Club, the first carpooling app in Australia which allows drivers and passengers to connect in real-time, is calling for 1,000 plus Sydney-based drivers to sign-up and revolutionise the daily commute.
The Carpool Club apps use real-time geo-positioning technology to connect drivers and passengers who are travelling in the same direction. Through the app, passengers purchase and exchange tokens with the driver to help offset the cost of their trip.
'Whether it's battling public transport queues, paying tolls and parking costs or struggling with traffic gridlock, the daily grind to and from work can be punishing for many Sydney-based workers," says Carpool Club founder, Peter Ruz.
'Research from Transport for NSW shows that over 70 per cent of private vehicles driven by workers in Sydney have just one person in them during peak times. Carpool Club will not only address this crazy inefficiency, it will make commutes faster and help the environment through reduced vehicle emissions," says Mr Ruz.
By picking up a passenger who is heading in the same direction, drivers can earn tokens which can be used to travel as a passenger themselves or be redeemed as cash to offset their travel costs when driving.
Trips start at $2.20 for distances up to 7.5km, which could take a passenger from Leichhardt to the city. Other examples of typical trip costs include Castle Hill to Sydney CBD, which could cost as little as $6.60, Brookvale to Sydney CBD starting at $4.40 or $6.60 to travel from Penrith to Parramatta.
Mr Ruz says that while the apps were initially conceived out of his own frustrations commuting from Southern Sydney to North Ryde, he hopes the app will create real change for the 69 per cent1 of Sydneysiders who travel by car to get to work.
'With Sydney's expected expansion rates, traffic all over the city is only going to get worse. If all commuters carpooled even a few times a week it could make a real difference to Sydney's traffic congestion issues," says Mr Ruz.
The Carpool Club driver app is now live and available for download from iTunes and Android app stores. Sydney drivers can register now so they can start offering rides when the Sydney passenger app launches in the coming weeks.
Jacqualyn Bresnahan, a physiotherapist from Peakhurst has already signed up as a driver because she can see how carpooling can help create real change.
'I drive around 120km from Peakhurst to Campbelltown each day to get to work as well as traveling all over Sydney to visit clients. Every day I see a huge number of cars with just one person in them.
By making it easier for me to connect with other drivers, it will be easy for me to carpool and help reduce the number of cars on the road," says Ms Bresnahan.
Sydney's Daily Commute Stats
Sydney has over 2.7 million cars
The average daily commute time for Sydneysiders is 70 minutes
Sydney households pay over almost $80 in tolls each week
How much does Carpool Club cost?
Passengers buy tokens ($1.10 each) from the app which are used to pay for trips
All trips up to 7.5 kilometres require two tokens
Longer trips requiring an extra token for every 7.5 kilometres (or part thereof)
When tokens are cashed in by drivers:
Carpool Club receives: $0.10
Carpool Club pays GST: $0.10
Question: What is Carpool Club?
Peter Ruz: Carpool Club is a program that connects drivers and passengers travelling in the same direction in real-time using smartphone apps. It is designed to stop the crazy situation whereby over 70% of cars during peak times have only one person in them. By reducing the number of cars on the road, traffic emissions and congestion will be reduced.
By making carpooling easy, Carpool Club hopes to encourage drivers to use the tokens they earn to travel as passengers themselves. Tokens earned by drivers can also be cashed in to help offset the costs of journeys that they are already making - the money could help pay for petrol, tolls, parking and other costs.
Carpool Club is ideal for commuters travelling to work or uni, but can also be used to go to major sporting and cultural events where parking and public transport often struggle to cope with the crowds.
Question: How does Carpool Club work?
Peter Ruz: Separate apps are used for drivers and passengers. Both drivers and passengers enter their intended trip and the apps connect commuters travelling in the same direction. Passengers pay by buying tokens which get transferred to the driver after a successful trip. Tokens for trips are calculated by the distance with trips up to 7.5km requiring two tokens and every 7.5km (or part thereof) requiring another token.
Question: What inspired the idea for Carpool Club?
Peter Ruz: I was commuting to work and a 25km trip that takes less than 40 min out of peak times would take 1–1.5 hours. I then noticed that most of the cars, like mine, had only one person in them. It occurred to me that if we could get just two people in every car we could halve the number of cars and reduce the traffic congestion. Carpooling is a way of doing this, but the challenge was connecting people at the time they want to travel and also finding an easy, transparent payment mechanism.
Question: What is required for a Sydney-based driver to sign-up to Carpool Club?
Peter Ruz: Firstly, download the driver app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Then read and agree to the Terms & Conditions. A key requirement is that participants must be over 18 years of age. Users then need to complete the registration forms in the app. Finally, they nominate the typical trip that they would take on a daily basis then wait for the program to launch.
Question: Is there car-restrictions in Carpool Club?
Peter Ruz: Cars must be made after 1960. They must be registered and roadworthy. We recommend that drivers keep their cars neat and tidy so they can get a good rating from passengers after each trip.
Question: Can you tell us about how the app is currently working?
Peter Ruz: The driver app is locked down so that after registration only the typical trip can be entered. We are still doing the final testing with the passenger app and its interaction with the driver app when trips are booked. A key feature of the passenger app will be that users can apply filters to restrict the drivers that get sent their request. Passengers can request drivers that are the same gender as them, or a smoker, or over (or under) a certain age. They can also request cars that are not older than 10 years old.
Question: Will Carpool Club be released across all Australia cities?
Peter Ruz: That is our intention. After our trial in Sydney we will look to roll it out into other Australian cities in 2018.
Question: How can we get the Carpool Club?
Peter Ruz: www.carpoolclub.com.au has lots of useful information about carpooling. It also has links to the apps. You can also search for Carpool Club in the app stores.
Question: What's next for Carpool Club?
Peter Ruz: We will launch in Sydney when we get 1,000 drivers registered. We then have plans to add more functionality to the apps next year – like allowing drivers to filter the passengers who's requests they get and allowing passengers to visually see the Carpool Car drivers in their area.
Interview by Brooke Hunter