Commuting has become a challenge today, thanks to increasing vehicular traffic, overcrowded public transport and congested roads. As a viable alternative, a hitherto metropolitan trend – carpooling or sharing of a single vehicle by two or more individuals – is catching up with Tiruchiites.
An eco-friendly, economical and socialising initiative, carpooling is considered as the most sensible option for people from the same locality commuting to a common destination. The trend is becoming popular with lecturers working in colleges outside city limits, says Rajendran, Registrar, Shivani School of Management. “You cannot always count on public transport for reaching college on time. Carrying belongings also beomes a hassle.” S. Venkatasubramaniam, a lecturer at Saranathan College has been sharing a ride with three colleagues for close to ten years. “We commute 40 kilometres everyday, but we don't feel the stress as we travel together. Carpooling is a great relationship-building exercise. We discuss everything from politics to jokes.” His colleague, Chandramouli who follows the same travel pattern asserts that it is not a profit-making venture. “Sharing a common facility is a purely friendly affair, operating on mutual understanding.”
Smitha, working for an educational firm, holds carpooling as a reasonable option for school children, particularly kindergarten kids to make them comfortable during the initial days. “I share my car with three colleagues when we commute long distances for work. We calculate mileage and share expenses.” Rajeshwari Rajesh, a chartered accountant, initially pooled her car with a friend to convey their kids from Cantonment to Kattur. But today children from four families share a vehicle operated by a driver, hired exclusively for the purpose. “Carpooling is a safer option than commercial vehicles that tend to overload. For, parents get to lay the ground rules.”
Many executives also find carpooling as a means to economise on rising fuel prices and maintenance costs, say Shivakumar, an executive. Companies in the Viralimali belt have a company pool car system, where executives from the same area are encouraged to use a single car. “While some opt for the office run system, there are others who pool cars between themselves, taking turns to drive.” Carpooling however thrives on sharing the same wavelength, insist commuters. It calls for adjustments and time-management .