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Breathing a new life into carpooling

Since its inception in January 2013, mebuddie.com has gathered over 6,000 working professionals as its registered members, of which 55 per cent are female 

What happens when two IT professionals with 18 years of experience between them give up their jobs for finding a solution to curb traffic menace? They come up with mebuddie.com, a website on which people can register and become a part of carpooling groups as per their convenience.

Happy faces: A few of the members of mebuddie, who use the carpooling service to or from Hinjewadi daily
Happy faces: A few of the members of mebuddie, who use the carpooling service to or from Hinjewadi daily

Since its inception in January 2013 over 6,000 working professional have registered on the website, of which 55 per cent are female. Arif Ahmed and Sudhakar Katika quit their jobs at a time when they could have held a key post in their respective organisations. They decided to do their bit to decongest city roads via carpooling, a concept that has failed time and again.

Speaking about their initiative, Arif said, “When I started using the IT cab service, initially it would take 15 minutes to cover a distance of five kilometres. But as time passed, my commute increased by 30 minutes. This is when I decided to do something about the traffic menace in the city. And decided to start carpool service with my friend.”

Katika said the concept of carpooling is already prevalent in the West and has been a huge success in many countries. “However, this model has failed in our country regardless of several online carpooling portals. Using technology to bring people together is nothing new. But for the concept to succeed in our country, it would be essential to customise it to suit the Indian mindset,” he said.

He added that with mebuddie.com, attitudes of people will change when they see others carpool successfully. “Imagine the potential of this model in India, where there is a huge demand for an alternate mode of transport to overcome the failing infrastructure, the never-ending traffic congestion and the need for an eco-friendly and sustainable. The carpooling model can also be leveraged by companies as part of their CSR initiatives.”

 Nayyar, one of the registered members, said, “I work for a software solutions firm in Hinjewadi. I used to travel either by bike or office bus from Katraj to Hinjewadi. Usually it would take 90 minutes to reach office, but during rains two hours was the norm. Since I’ve started carpooling, I save a good two hours of travelling. My friend introduced me to mebuddie. Later I learnt that one of its founders is an ex-employee of the firm. Initially, I joined the group just to check its efficiency, and was surprised by how effective their services were. The best part about carpooling is its timings. I get almost four options, even if I’m travelling at 7 pm instead of 6 pm, which is awesome. ”

Car owner S Kashyap said, “I used to reside at Magarpatta and would travel to Hinjewadi for work. I joined mebuddie as a commuter. It was going well until the car owner switched jobs. Then I thought of taking out my own car for pooling. Later, I shifted to Aundh. Now I’m carpooling from Aundh to Hinjewadi. The best part about mebuddie is their charges. It works out well for the car owner and the commuter. Moreover, the payment structure is simple and the commuters travelling in the cars are decent.”

Rs 150
One-time fee a service user is supposed to pay

Rs 2
Amount charged per kilometre

Rs 25
Minimum travel charge

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