Carpooling app designed to beat high parking fees in Perth

Article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-10/carpooling-app-developed-in-wa/6385204

An app to encourage carpooling has been developed in Western Australia by a group of friends frustrated by high CBD car parking fees and public transport costs.

A million more cars are expected to be on WA roads by 2020, and app developer Ben Rattigan said carpooling was an immediate, cheap and obvious way to reduce the volume of traffic during peak periods.

The Hitch A Ride app, developed by Mr Rattigan and six of his friends, works by identifying shared routes and linking up those offering a lift with potential passengers.

“If I need a lift somewhere I’d log a ‘hitch’ and that would come up in everyone’s feed, then if someone is going that direction they click on my profile, we start chatting and arrange a time to meet,” Mr Rattigan said.

“Whether or not you pay for the service is between you and the person who picks you up.

“Nine times out of 10 people don’t end up paying but you might get the odd uni student who needs a fuel contribution so we’ve got that option there.”

The app is different to other online carpooling forums because it only it only links users with their own friends on social media, rather than strangers.

“It’s all about connect with your social network and people who you want to ride with anyway,” Mr Rattigan said.

But unlike public transport or taxi drivers, those offering the lift are not subjected to any checks.

That has prompted concern from WA’s peak motoring body, the RAC.

“We’ve got a growing state, growing population, more people travelling to and from work,” RAC corporate affairs manager Will Golsby said.

“Especially during peak periods there is opportunity there to look at how we can get people to and from where they need to be more efficiently and in a more sustainable manner.

“What we would encourage everyone to do if they’re using this form of technology, is to ensure that they are comfortable in getting in the vehicle with people, not only from a security, but from a road safety perspective.”

He said that provided it was done safely, carpooling could provide a viable immediate solution to WA’s congestion problems, and more needed to be done to encourage it.

Transport Minister Dean Nalder said dedicated carpooling lanes like those already used in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were being considered for Perth, but would only be introduced as part of a wider transport strategy for the city.

He also warned of the risks of app-based ride-sharing options, and said passengers may not be covered by insurance in the event of an accident.