Shared Mobility Thoughts

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Covid-19 Task Force: Carpooling with Venkatesh Gopal, Flo Devellennes, Jacob Greig & Elliot Siemiatycki

Sep 10, 2020

This week’s Covid-19 Taskforce webinar focuses on the effects Covid-19 has had across the carpooling landscape. movmi’s Venkatesh Gopal is joined by Flo Devellennes, CEO and Co-Founder of Poparide, Jacob Greig, Vice President of Americas at Liftango and Elliot Siemiatycki, Vice President of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at RideSharkThey discuss the carpooling strategies their companies have implemented during the pandemic, including new safety measures, increased communication with the user and improvements in technology.

You can also directly ask the taskforce anything related to Covid-19 and seek advice on managing your own operation by sending an email to taskforce@movmi.net.

Covid-19 Taskforce: Carpooling with Venkatesh Gopal, Flo Devellennes, Jacob Greig & Elliot Siemiatycki

In this MICRO WEBINAR:

  • What’s driving the need for carpool? There has always been a desire to reduce congestion and parking pressure, which hasn’t changed since the pandemic, but people are now not comfortable riding public transport, which is why they are using their private cars or carpooling. Instead of convenience and affordability, trust and safety are the reason people are carpooling, especially with people they already know.
  • Carpooling peaked during World War Two due to necessity and shortages, and it seems like it’s coming full circle and trending again during the pandemic, in times when people need it the most.
  • Rideshark helps to support mainly enterprise customers. Health and safety is imperative right now, so the company are strictly following CDC and Health Canada’s guidelines and are sharing these across their platform with their users. This is a window of opportunity for carpooling to grow as people’s travel behaviour changes.
  • Poparide focuses on helping people travel together between cities via carpooling. They had a 95% drop in activity in April. As things are developing now, there is a balance between allowing people to travel and keeping people safe. People are more comfortable sharing a car with a few people rather than getting onto a bus, train or plane. Carpooling is a cheaper and alternative way to get around and is currently an essential service and needs to stay in operation.
  • A trusted network is a key component of carpooling services. Not everyone can purchase their own vehicle to drive to work and not every company has unlimited parking, so carpooling is a solution for this problem. The pandemic has opened up a window of opportunity for safe carpooling, particularly getting around within cities. 
  • Liftango has found that it’s difficult to get people to break the habit of driving their own car as it’s so ingrained in culture, particularly in North America. So they ask themselves, ‘How can we make it easy for people to carpool? How can we make it safe? How can we create trust?’ Even in open carpool networks, people prefer to build their own networks, even for their day-to-day commutes, rather than riding with strangers. That’s why platform such as Liftango are important, they can connect people within the same area, business and of the same mindset together.
  • Poparide can’t control have social distancing bubbles. They have strangers driving from one city to another and they have to just follow Covid guidelines. You take a chance, but you must take precautions. Having their platform allows communication and Poparide have been really focusing on communication with their users. In case of Covid outbreak, they have contact tracing via their app to help the process of keeping it contained. 
  • Organic carpooling is restricted in terms of matching with only the parents you’ve previously met, unless you use technology. The potential trips and network then triples. A new reality that schools are facing are school buses running at half capacity, which is challenging because schools can’t afford to buy twice as many buses. That is why they have now taken more of an interest in the carpooling services.
  • Parents are also now working from home, so dropping them off on the way to work isn’t an easy option anymore. People are creating their own social bubbles based on the level of risk they are willing to take, which is where platforms like Liftango help people, to connect in a safe and controlled way.
  • Universities and colleges are taking many different approaches to how they face the pandemic. Many students are studying at home, but they are still travelling to see their families and peers, so offering advice and constant communication and guidelines is vital during this time, particularly with different legislation across individual provinces and states.
  • Universities and colleges also have a great deal of interest in carpooling at the minute. The main motivations are the lack of private cars available for students and unsafe public transit services. RideShark offers multimodal transportation, in particular active transportation as well as carpooling solutions. The idea of a trusted network is key for college campuses. 
  • This is an opportunity to reset travel behaviour and that reset should look at all modes of transport. The importance of data when planning transport networks is key. Using technology to leverage your services and provide rewards and incentives is key to creating a successful carpooling system. 
  • Follow the guidelines as they are set out by your local authorities. If you have to travel, only do so if you have no symptoms. If you travel wear a mask and keep good airflow in the vehicle and in the unfortunate event that someone catches Covid during your trip, be transparent about your illness, tell the people you travelled with the platform that you used.

If you have a direct question for the taskforce related to Covid-19 or wish to seek advice on managing your own operation, send an email with your question to taskforce@movmi.net. For more Covid-19 information and resources click here.

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