09 April 2009

Some Thoughts on Car Pooling

While browsing about the Internet today I was curious about the state of car pooling in Malaysia. Car pooling is also known as ride sharing. Car pooling is the act of several individuals using the same vehicle at the same time to get from one point to another. For obvious reasons, car pooling works best in the "get to work" commute, and back. But there is nothing to stop individuals from sharing a ride for a different kind of commute, e.g. four individuals who want to go to Penang from KL can always share a ride.

A few years ago the Government suggested that all vehicles entering the city center (Kuala Lumpur) should be charged a toll, and the toll would depend on whether the car was on car pool. That phase engendered some funny comments from an uncle of mine who joked that I might like to buy an inflatable doll (I can't mention the type) to put on the appearance of car pooling! Fancy that ... an inflatable doll of unmentionable proportions being my comrade of commutes. 

In 2006 Bernama ran a two part article on car pooling. It was in support of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs' campaign "Smart Consumer Campaign". The two articles can be accessed as follows:

In 2005, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mustapa Muhamed (as then he was) was quoted in a Bernama interview saying: "The transportation sector constitutes 41 per cent of energy consumption. With prior planning of trips, car pooling and the use of public transport, the expenditure on fuel could be reduced." (Ref: Bernama, 31st July 2005. Why Petrol Subsidy Should Be Reduced. URL: http://web10.bernama.com/kpdnhep/news.php?id=147829)

In 2008, FOMCA's communications director, Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman was quoted in a Bernama interview saying: "Whenever possible, try to car pool and use lower cc vehicles as they consume less petrol." (Ref: Bernama, 6th June 2008. Fuel Price Hike: Time For Prudent Spending. URL: http://web10.bernama.com/kpdnhep/news.php?id=337692)

In early 2008 as well, under the previous Penang state government (then under Barisan), it was suggested that the Penang Bridge congestion could be partly eased by car pooling. (Ref: Bernama, 11th January 2008. Penang Bridge Traffic Congestion: Causes, Solutions? By Muna Khalid. URL: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=307113)

Needless to say there are many more examples in the news. Car pooling as a concept has been advocated countless times by our politicians and community leaders.

In mid-March 2009 it was reported in Bernama that American and German researchers found in a study of heart attack cases, reported over 4 years, that: (i) 8% of heart attacks were directly caused by being in traffic; (ii) there is a 3.2 times higher risk of heart attack within the first hour of exposure to traffic; (iii) being a driver was the most common form of traffic exposure. (Ref: Bernama, 17th March 2009. Traffic Jams Might Lead To Heart Attack. URL: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=396736)

Back to the two part Bernama article I referred to earlier, the second part quoted Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia's executive secretary, Datuk Nadzim Johor Abu Johan, regarding some tips on car pooling. 


To ensure smooth car-pooling, Nadzim gives several tips:

1. Establish a "fare" based on fuel, maintenance and parking costs. Agree on a specific date for the fares to be collected.

2. Set a fixed time schedule and pick-up points. Be punctual as "chronic" and habitual late car-poolers can disrupt a happy ride.

3. Draw up a schedule for driving responsibilities. If all members of a particular car-pool want alternate driving, then decide whether it is for daily, weekly or monthly basis.

4. Set up a back-up or contingency plan and establish a chain of communication. Ensure that everyone in a car-pool has the contact number of other car-poolers and agree in advance as to what should be done in the event of illness to the driver or mechanical problems to the car -- it is best to expect the unexpected.

5. An automobile association membership can be a "great investment" for those rare occasions when the ignition keys are accidentally left in a locked car or a jump-start is needed.

6. Establish policies. Smoking or non-smoking; radio and music volume; food and drinks.

Your car-pool would be more pleasant and has a better chance of success if possible irritations and distractions are eliminated.

7. The golden rule of car-pooling -- no detours or making stops along the way.

Car-pooling serves only one purpose, that is travelling to and from work and never allow the car-pool to become a shopping ride or errand service.

8. Vehicle maintenance.

A poorly maintained car consumes between 15 and 50 per cent more fuel than one that is properly maintained. A well maintained vehicle will ensure safe, reliable and comfortable ride.

9. Drive carefully as there are others in the car. No excuse for over-speeding and reckless driving.

10. Sometimes it is the "petty thing" that make a big difference. Car-pool partners would be sitting close to each other in the car and any perfume, cologne and deodorant can be offending and irritating to some people who are highly sensitive to certain smells.

Datuk Nadzim was also quoted suggesting the setting up of a car pooling website. It is this point which actually got me interested in the car pooling idea. I wondered how many efforts have been made online as to car pooling / ridesharing in Malaysia. The following are what I found.

  1. Tune Travel -- registered to Teles Systems Sdn. Bhd. (Administrative Contact: Alvin Dass 03-78046364 / 03-78777291). It seems to have potential as the main features of a ridesharing website are present: forum, travel listing, and most importantly blog.
  2. CarPool2Day -- registered to Synapses Enterprises. (Administrative Contact: Marshal Yung 03-80764376). News updates stopped at 2005. However, a quick perusal of the "Search Rides" feature at the bottom of the front page shows that there are quite a number of posts, mostly from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. The interface could be improved but it has potential. 
  3. Malaysia Car Pool -- Hosted at Blogger.com, it seems to be a blog. Yet careful perusal of the site shows that the webmaster was clever enough to create some forms to interact with his site visitors/users. Last post was in 2008. While the idea is good, the use of a standard Blogger template may be a turn off to visitors. (Nevertheless it may be worth a visit to his form provider -- Response-O-Matic)
  4. Carpool King -- An international website (registered 2007) which serves a number of countries. Naturally the look and feel of this website are quite impressive -- but the number of listings are quite dismal. There are 4 from Kuala Lumpur and 3 from Selangor. Nevertheless a look at the Safety Features shows that some thought has gone into designing the site, although the verification of identity may be a bit tough. The web master chose to hide his details from WHOIS searches. Nevertheless you can read the press release about Mr Brian Hsu from New Zealand who founded the site.
  5. Tumpang.My -- Registered to GIS Innovation Sdn Bhd. (Administrative Contact: Lyes Mokraoui 03-42705172). The forum has been set up but there are only a few posts. Perhaps the look is too bare or the user needs to click too many times to see the listings? 
  6. Carpool Malaysia -- Registered to one Chin Wei Choong (Administrative Contact:  +60.176029199) since 2007. So far it is only one page with an e-mail contact. A project slotted for later development, perhaps?
  7. Carpool World -- Quite an innovative design using Google Maps to indicate the location of the rides for sharing. There are a number of recent posts from March and even April. The site is registered to Datasphere Corporation in New York. This website is quite innovative as they are providing a system for other car pooling groups to operate. The charges are USD10 for 500 user trip records and USD2 for every 100 additional trip records. You can also check out the service agreement.
  8. KL CarPool.com -- Registered to Chong Yu Nam (Administrative Contact: 0378802369) It aims to serve the crowd from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Seremban. A forum has been set up since 2008 but sadly there have been no posts.

There are probably some successful carpool websites in Singapore. Some of these sites are from a January 2008 Singaporean newspaper clipping

  1. OLX Singapore -- Free classifieds website which has a section dedicated to car pooling. Reasonable level of activity with 3 to 6 posts per month. 
  2. SG Carpool -- Requires a registration / login to view the listings. There is a blog showing activity from September 2007.
  3. Carpool.SG -- Has a forum which has reasonable level of activity.
  4. Tagxe -- Pronounced as "teksi", it has since closed down. Its webmaster redirected it to his personal blog where he also explained the reasons for the closure of the site: "At time of death, we are exactly 1 year old and we have 1,493 registered users and 349 rides created. However on our key benchmark of our success, we have no successful ride that we have matched up so far." The redirection of users to the old forum is also not satisfactory because the forum has been overrun with spam posts.
  5. Singapore Cars Forum -- Has a forum dedicated to car pooling. It draws respectable traffic post of about 10 new posts per month.
  6. Singapore Gumtree Rideshare forum -- also gets quite respectable traffic.
  7. Tompang Buddy -- also set up a forum but the traffic is not quite as much as the other sites mentioned here.
  8. Locanto Rideshare -- A forum format which draws good traffic. Many recent posts.

I am also quite impressed with Carpool Australia, which boasts that it is "Australia’s First National Car Pooling System".


Unknown said...

Just another nice and easy to use carpooling web site Carpool for Asia

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
彩莹 said...

interesting article~
but can i know when malaysia start carry out ridesharing program?

Unknown said...

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Social Ridesharing

Unknown said...

Car pooling can only work along Thika Super Highway because one lane can be set aside for this purpose, all the other roads its not realistic.

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