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Web-based car pooling soon to take off in Auckland

June 1, 2004

Web-based car pooling soon to take off in Auckland

An Auckland group – carpool.co.nz – is pushing for a major internet-based carpool scheme which they say could ease the city’s road traffic congestion and begin in 12 months’ time.

Carpool.co.nz has been working on software criteria for two years to reduce the number of single occupancy cars on the roads with a web-based car pooling system. Concern over rising oil prices makes the move timelier than ever before.

They plan to set up online communities for each carpool groups. Software has already been designed so carpoolers only have to live somewhere on the route of fellow carpoolers for the system to work. Commuters in Car pools will use the lane reserved for public transport.

``Congestion is nationally recognised for its negative effect on Auckland’s economy, not to mention the environmental, health and social costs,’’ carpool.co.nz spokesman Malcolm Rands said today.

``Rising oil prices are a concern too. We have a major internet carpooling proposal that can change all that.’’

Over $13billion is projected to be spent on roads in the next 15 years to ease gridlocks and improve Auckland’s congested traffic problems. Currently in the greater Auckland region there are an estimated 543,000 trips to work a day.

``This cost is too high and we feel an Auckland-wide car pooling system would have a positive impact on reducing congestion and cost very little,’’ said Rands, founder of ecostore.

``Carpool.co.nz plan not to build industrial-age highways, but information-age superhighways to decrease traffic congestion. Carpooling has been around for many years, but until the recent arrival of browser-based technology, a large community of carpoolers has not been possible.’’

The Onewa Road carpooling lane has improved congestion by 40 percent even without technology support for people joining a carpool.

Carpool.co.nz has strategic links to Auckland University’s school of engineering science, a recognised centre for software excellence.

The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) is encouraging employers to use web based car-pooling schemes to reduce air pollution and road congestion. Carpool .co.nz have met with key groups in the public and private sectors. The ARC, in partnership with the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA), has received funding from Infrastructure Auckland to develop software for carpooling.

The first grant money is targeted towards making it easier for large organisations to get their staff or students into carpools.

``We want to make sure this ground work is done properly so all our added features can be added on as more funding becomes available. This first project could be running within 12 months,’’ Rands said.

Carpool.co.nz believes the system should be run by a user owned trust, much in the same way as the AA.

The group plans to run a pilot at a satellite site such as a university campus to trial the effectiveness of carpooling across a highly distributed environment. The second stage would be to set up a carpooling system across the whole Auckland community.


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