Bangalore’s car pooling venture ropes in celebrities

December 9th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 9 (IANS) If cricketer Robin Uthappa and commentator Charu Sharma can do it, so can other Bangaloreans. Or so the man behind the city’s first major car pool campaign - which began two years ago but is still not on the fast lane - is hoping.Vipul Kasera has now roped in celebrities Uthappa, Sharma and also popular Kannada film actress Anu Prabhakar for CommuteEasy, which he set up to help reduce traffic jams in this city that sees a thousand new vehicles every day.

“After the three signed up Nov 27 at a ‘Lets Pool In’ programme organised by the portal, FM channel Radio One and Bangalore Traffic Police, the campaign got around 1,200 new members,” he said.

“Although they are not regular officegoers, celebrities joining us and endorsing such campaigns definitely helps in encouraging more and more people to be part of CommuteEasy,” Kasera told IANS.

Sharma said after signing up: “Car pooling is not a new concept, but it is a positive beginning for us and I would like to congratulate Radio One, CommuteEasy and Traffic Police. I want all Bangaloreans to be part of the initiative.”

Said Uthappa: “Along with saving time, money and reducing traffic on the roads, car pooling also helps reduce carbon emissions and other harmful gases in the atmosphere. I too pool my cars with friends and when I was young I used public transportation massively.”

Kasera, 25, launched www.commuteeasy.com after being a victim of Bangalore’s notorious traffic snarls almost daily as he travelled from his home in the middle-class locality of Basaveshwarnagar in west Bangalore to his office on Airport Road in east Bangalore, about 15 km away.

Following discussions with colleagues and friends on the chaotic situation on the city roads, he was inspired to design www.commuteeasy.com to promote car pooling as a solution. The radio channel and the Bangalore traffic police pitched in to popularise the concept.

The CommuteEasy community currently has over 6,700 active members, a minuscule number compared to the city’s nearly eight million population with more than three million vehicles.

“People can register with us and then look for car sharing partners, say, within a one- kilometre radius, and also match their work timings and route. Depending on whether one has a car or not, one can offer a ride or accept a ride,” said Kasera, who has now quit his job to fully concentrate on CommuteEasy.

As much as 80 percent of the 6,700 CommuteEasy car poolers are IT professionals in the city, and acoordingly most car pools are headed to the IT hubs — Electronic City, Whitefield, Marathahalli and Airport Road in the city’s eastern parts. The women car poolers number around 1,500 and all are IT professionals.

The rest are college-goers, some as young as 18 years, Kasera said, adding that the portal was now trying to encourage parents in residential complexes to use car pooling for their schoolgoing children.

Bangalore city, spread over 1,000 sq km, has 4,500 km roads with 40,000 intersections, of which 230 have signals and 600 manned intersections, according to the traffic police.

Of the city’s three million vehicles, 2.2 million are two-wheelers, more than half a million cars, and around 96,000 are three-wheeler auto-rickshaws. City transport buses are over 5,000 and the rest are private buses and other heavy vehicles.

According to traffic police, the city’s road network is primarily radial and converging on the centre leading to unwarranted entry of traffic, a major reason for the frequent traffic snarls in the central business district.

(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at m.boruah@ians.in)

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