Network to combine carpooling with public transport options
The EU-funded project SocialCar is developing an urban networking service allowing travellers to combine public transport with car sharing offers to plan trips. The aim is to offer travellers more options and reduce urban congestion.
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SocialCar plans to design, develop, test and roll out an alternative to current carpooling networks, which the project says often provide little or no information on all choices available to travellers.
SocialCar´s proposed alternative allows users to access its network through a smartphone application, which will generate multiple integrated multimodal travel options, including carpooling, public transport, walking and shared bike services.
The project is developing route planning algorithms and a network to integrate the data from such services, helping to simplify travel for users and providing them with more options and information in real-time. A reputation-based system will allow travellers and carpool providers to rate each other.
Crowdsourced travel information will also be available through the smartphone app. Fellow commuters will be able to update each other about traffic disruptions and other issues through social media.
SocialCar will test the proposed service in 10 European cities. The project plans to apply an open access approach to the software components it develops, offering new business opportunities to those who want to use it in other cities.
A SocialCar scenario describes how the service would work: Anna normally drives to her workplace in the city every morning, but finds traffic congestion is getting worse, and parking expensive. She decides to look for another option. Meanwhile Karl, who lives nearby and works in a town 15 km away, would like to share the cost of his commute with a carpool companion.
The SocialCar app offers Anna the option of carpooling with Karl, from her home to a train station in the town he works in, and to subsequently connect to a train which would take her within 1 km of her workplace.
Sharing the car with Karl combined with using public transport allows Anna to get to her workplace faster. Karl pays less for the car park as Anna also contributes. This is a clear win-win situation for both commuters. Throughout the carpool journey, the SocialCar app provides information on train delays, parking space availability at the station, based on information from other SocialCar users. The train journey is fast and avoids the congestion on the road. At the end of the train journey, Anna can walk the final 1 km to work. SocialCar also informs her of a connecting bus service and a bike-share scheme at the station.