The Dominion Post

New ride-share site to put bums on seats

- Kate Green kate.green@stuff.co.nz

About 1.4 million Kiwis drive to work each day, most of them alone.

That is 7 million seats in total – 5.5 million of which are empty.

Wellington-based startup Hitch is trying to change that, with two rideshare pilot programmes launched this month.

Co-founder Claudia Grave said it was crazy thinking about that many cars on the road with the challenges the world was facing through climate change, plus frustratin­g traffic congestion and the cost of petrol.

The way New Zealanders used cars was ‘‘pretty unsustaina­ble’’, Grave said, but public transport did not suit everyone.

Hitch is part of the first cohort for startup incubator Creative HQ’s new Climate Response Accelerato­r programme, designed to help entreprene­urs develop solutions for climate change.

Two pilots launched last week will run for four weeks. One is open to the public, the other is a workplace trial among 15 central city businesses.

So far 107 people have signed up, and 23 shared car journeys in the first week.

Co-founder Todd Foster said they began with a simple question; what was stopping people sharing their cars?

Firstly, it was hard to find and connect with others heading the same way at the same time. Then there was the perceived safety risk around carpooling with strangers. Thirdly, and put simply, it could be ‘‘a logistical nightmare’’ trying to co-ordinate everyone efficientl­y.

The website facilitate­s organisati­on. People submit a request to carpool by 7pm the night before. They receive a text message about 7.30pm confirming they have been matched to a pool.

Then they meet at a specified time, at a central point in their suburb to be picked up.

 ?? ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF ?? Todd Foster and Claudia Grave are developing Hitch, a web system for commuters to share car rides.
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF Todd Foster and Claudia Grave are developing Hitch, a web system for commuters to share car rides.

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