Sunday Times

Traffic-weary commuters decide it’s cool to carpool

- By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER govendersu@sundaytime­

Asset manager Jan Louw sold his wheels and hopped into a stranger’s car over a month ago to start life as a carpool passenger.

Louw, who lives in Constantia, Cape Town, has saved more than R3 000 on car repayments and fuel for his 42km commute into the central business district in the month since he became a paying passenger and occasional cyclist.

He is among thousands of South Africans who are hanging up their keys in a bid to beat rocketing fuel prices, save the planet and avoid the frustratio­n of daily traffic congestion.

Carpooling is becoming serious business in South Africa as more lift club apps like uGoMyWay and CarTrip become available for commuters.

A 2016 study co-authored by Massachuse­tts Institute of Technology economists shows that carpooling laws can reduce traffic by 87% and are a “simple‚ low-cost solution” for highly congested cities.

Frustrated by congestion, Louw initially thought Uber and Taxify would be an option, but this proved expensive.

“I looked for a more affordable option and I found carpooling. Carpooling people tend to chat a lot — the social aspect is very nice and far better than sitting in a car by myself.”

Kavinash Gareeb, of Durban, can’t recall the last time he paid for fuel since he started his carpool service 11 years ago. He makes a 40km commute daily with his four passengers.

“The money from my passengers covers the fuel cost, wear and tear and other things as well. I haven’t paid for fuel in a long time.”

Chris Megan, who heads the uGoMyWay app, said there was a “proven appetite for carpooling in South Africa”.

uGoMyWay has 3 000 registered users and is expecting this to increase to 10 000 in the next year. Its users are mainly in Cape Town, Johannesbu­rg and Durban.

Chris Faure, MD of CarTrip, which has 2 000 registered users nationally, said there had definitely been an increase of carpooling.

“It reduces stress as you can read, sleep, work, socialise or just relax instead of being stuck behind the wheel yourself in rush-hour traffic. You also save on the maintenanc­e of your vehicle.

“The average driver could recoup around R20 000 per annum towards his driving costs should he share his daily commute with three other passengers.

“It is estimated that each carpool with four riders can reduce greenhouse gases annually by over 5 000kg, which is the equivalent of over 2 200 litres of petrol.”

 ?? Picture: Ruvan Boshoff ?? Eugene Delport and Jan Louw carpool to work in Cape Town.
Picture: Ruvan Boshoff Eugene Delport and Jan Louw carpool to work in Cape Town.

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