Can Carpools Save The Planet? Wunder Thinks So

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Carpooling. Isn’t that the province of parents arranging rides for their kids to school or soccer practice? After kids hit legal driving age, the carpool gets the boot: a huge relief for parents tired of the weekly grind and a celebration for kids to get out from under Mom and Dad’s watchful, restrictive eyes.

  • In the past, carpooling didn’t catch on as a viable solution to reduce congestion and emissions.
  • The idea behind ridesharing was supposed to get multiple riders in the same car, but so far has failed to make an impact, sometimes making traffic worse.
  • With its app Wunder Carpool, Wunder Mobility hopes to improve the abysmal carpooling rate, which is 9% in the United States.
  • The Wunder Carpool model has already proved effective in Manila, taking 30,000 cars off the road daily.
  • From its success record in Manila, other public and private institutions are coming aboard to try out the app.

According to the 2015 Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only 9% of people carpooled while 76.6% chose to drive solo. That’s abysmal. No matter how hard state and federal governments have tried here in the United States, they obviously couldn’t get carpooling to become the cool kid on the block. Although it provides an excellent way to reduce traffic congestion and CO2 emissions, very few people are participating. Why is that?

Why Traditional Carpooling Sucks

When you show up and that guy is running late, do you just tell him tough luck, we’ll see you at the office and leave? Sure, you’re on the moral high ground.

If you decide to wait, that can stress out and piss off other carpool members cooling their heels for the late guy who doesn’t care about anyone’s time but his own. In addition, waiting could cause others to be late and screw up their schedules.

Then there’s the reverse problem. What if someone gets called into a last-minute meeting or has to deal with an unexpected issue? Then either the rest of the carpoolers have to wait and get annoyed and cranky or the driver leaves the person stranded at the office. (Of course, there’s Uber but that can get very expensive depending how far you need to go.)

Inconvenience Proved Carpooling’s Downfall

On top of the inconvenience factor, carpooling takes away your freedom to bolt whenever you want. You can’t just wave goodbye and take off early for whatever reason, including when your boss says, why don’t you take the rest of the day off and go home.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Since carpooling hasn’t thus far been the winning ticket for attacking congestion and emissions, ridesharing—carpooling, of sorts—was supposed to reduce snarling traffic and cough-inducing smog. Apparently that’s not working either. San Francisco traffic has increased by 60% between 2010-2016—and Uber and Lyft contributed over 50% of that number. Ouch.

While people buy into carpooling in theory, in practice not so much. It’s interesting to note that the most use the carpool lane gets is with electric vehicles carrying only one person. In other words, people would rather buy an electric car that qualifies for the HOV lane than carpool. If we can turn around the perception of carpooling by making it easy and convenient, then more people will avail themselves of the service.

Leveraging Technology to Revive the Carpool

And that’s what Wunder Carpool did by engaging technology through an app to figure out the complicated logistics and remove the barriers to entry of the dreaded carpool.

Headquartered in Germany, Wunder has become the market leader in carpooling across the Metro Manila region over the past three years. And, if anyone needs the benefits of carpooling it’s Manila. It is one of the most gridlocked cities in the world.

Connecting people commuting in the same direction to work and back, the Wunder app automatically matches carpoolers to drivers. And it does it expediently based on location, route and travel time. In this way, car owners can fill those empty seats, while passengers can grab a lift not a Lyft.

Essentially, those driving the carpool function as Uber X pool drivers, except payment comes in the form of improving the environment. And, it doesn’t cost anything for drivers. Depending on the company’s or organization’s partnership with Wunder, it’s possible to get reimbursed for expenses such as gas and car maintenance.

Driving costs are picked up by passengers, who receive a suggested fair according to distance before booking. However, differing from a rideshare, the payments are not designed for the driver to make a profit for taking on carpooling duties.

According to Wunder, it has created the largest ecosystem of carpoolers outside of China, getting 30,000 cars off the roads of Manila each day. That’s startlingly impressive.

The Wunder carpooling model leverages the basis of the Lyft and Uber ridesharing model and removes the kinks. Ridesharing often ends up with just one person in the car, the same as putting your own car on the road. On the other hand, Wunder ensures at least one car is off the road, but the idea is to get even more. And it’s working.

Taking the Model Worldwide

Now Wunder Carpool plans to bring carpooling to public and private institutions in Manila and to expand worldwide from there, the big push in expansion on public and private institutions as the major stakeholders in tackling traffic congestion and pollution.

Since Wunder has a good track record, signing on with the company seems a good bet. It has reported that through its carpooling app, more than 14,000 tons of CO2 have been reduced from the atmosphere. Currently, Wunder Mobility, the parent company of Wunder Carpool, counts over 100 cities on five continents using its technology in more than 50 private and public institutions.

“We are extremely grateful to our carpooling community which has powered more than five million rides through our platform and has helped us understand the average urban commute more than any other mobility technology company in the world,” said Philipp Wenger, GM Wunder Carpool. “This has helped us create state of the art technology that is currently being implemented on five continents across the world by institutions that want to provide more sustainable mobility solutions to communities.”

Based on its success, Wunder Carpool has captured the attention of institutions in North America, Europe and SEA that have already signed up to create carpool communities. It looks like if anyone can revive the carpool and make it a hero in the war against pollution, Wunder can. For more information about carpooling and to see if your place of business participates, click here.

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