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A slew of alternative ride services to make sure you get to office on time

K N M Rao, Founder and CEO, Quick Ride
Ishita Kothiyal, 23, recently started working at a digital advertising firm. In her very first month, she had to struggle to avail the services of ride-hailing platforms such as Uber and Ola, with frequent cancellations, surge pricing and a host of other issues making it difficult for her to get to her workplace on time. Her colleagues then introduced her to an alternative transportation service called Quick Ride. The firm is focused on office-going commuters and connects them to carpooling owners who themselves are verified-working professionals employed in the same organisations or companies located nearby.

“A cab to my office usually costs me around Rs 150–200, whereas a Quick Ride costs me anything between Rs 30 and Rs 50. It is very light on my pocket,” says Kothiyal. “I think because you travel every day with the same people, you end up becoming friends. My ride-givers have been very accommodating and also wait for me if I’m ever running late. I may have been hesitant during my first ride, but over time it becomes very comfortable and familiar,” she adds.

Kothiyal is among thousands of office-going commuters in the country who are increasingly adopting alternative transportation services offered by start-ups such as Quick Ride, Bounce, Vogo, Rapido and sRide, instead of simply relying on mainstream ride-hailing firms such as Ola and Uber, or even public transport.

Started in 2015, Quick Ride helps car- and bike-owners to build a car or bike pooling culture and enables urban commuters to share and maximise the available or empty sits in their vehicles. It enables commuters to use technology in order to discover, connect, and route-match with other carpoolers in a seamless and automated manner.

“Currently, cities are grappling with limited space and private vehicles are adding to vehicular congestion. We aim to decongest the city roads and reduce vehicular pollution through our initiative,” says K N M Rao, founder and chief executive of Quick Ride.

A tech professional who has worked at top companies such as Philips, Cisco and Huawei, he decided to start Quick Ride using his personal savings after seeing his colleagues struggling and waiting endlessly before being able to board the company cab. Rao adds that Quick ride aims to build a community of conscientious citizens who are willing to contribute toward decongestion and reducing air pollution.

One such conscientious citizen is Hari Balan, 50, a communications professional at a tech company, who owns an SUV and decided to offer carpooling services on Quick Ride while commuting to his office. “I think it is a great initiative. I’ve made quite a few friends, and once more people start using it, we will be able to see a significant difference on the road with respect to traffic congestion,” he says.

The fare for every ride is calculated based on a “pool points” system, where each rupee is equal to one point. While carpoolers are given the flexibility to set the fare between zero points to five points per kilometre, the recommended fare for carpooling is three points per kilometre. These points are rotated within the carpooler network to drive the carpooling activity. The ride givers can use these points for various vehicle services, including re-fuelling. Quick Ride’s business model includes charging some fee for each ride.

Quick Ride, which entered the market with 40 users in 2015, now has 2.4 million registered users across India. It has completed 25 million carpool rides across the country. The company is operational in major metro cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi-NCR. The firm, which counts Bengaluru among its largest markets, claims to have prevented more than 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions across cities.

Quick Ride is working with companies such as Wipro, Cognizant, Infosys, IBM and Capgemini to promote its carpooling services. The start-up, which started as a social cause, has also caught the attention of marquee investors such as Sequoia, Naspers and Venture Highway, who invested over Rs 100 crore in it this April.

While Quick Ride is focused on carpooling service, MoveInSync, a Bengaluru-based technology start-up that develops transportation software and offers it as a service to large companies, has unveiled a dedicated cab service for office-goers called GetToWork (GTW). GTW has 150 cabs on its platform and does 500 office commutes a day in Bengaluru. Deepesh Agarwal, co-founder and chief executive of MoveInSync, said the service is 30-40 per cent cheaper than the fares charged by Uber and Ola.

“What needs to be given to an employee when he or she is going to the office is ‘reliability’, and it is the theme around which we are offering the service,” says Agarwal. “We want to make it economical, but we don’t want to say that we are cheaper, as the drivers have to make a livelihood out of it.”

MoveInSync’s GTW provides a scheduled transportation system for workers with fixed timings. Employees could directly pay for the service, instead of their employers. GTW service is currenly available for people travelling to places such as HSR Layout, Prestige Tech Park, Embassy Tech Village and Prestige Trinity Center in Bengaluru, while the company is eyeing to hit 5,000 daily users within six months. Transportation for employees in the tech sector alone is a $10 billion opportunity, according to Agarwal.

An average Indian spends seven per cent of his day in commuting to office, averaging less than three minutes per kilometre, according to a study by MoveInSync. The report said that the time spent by Indians in daily office commute is among the highest in the world. With more than two hours spent on the road every day, a workday equates to 50 per cent of the day for an average Indian.

In June this year, online bus ticketing platform redBus also unveiled an advanced carpooling service on its platform, called rPool. Started in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, this service allows office goers to avail and offer rides in their personal cars while commuting between home and their workplaces. rPool can be accessed directly from within the redBus mobile app.

There are also bike-sharing services such as Bounce and Vogo which are becoming popular with office-goers. In July this year, Bounce said it has reached a significant milestone of 60,000 rides per day in Bengaluru, making it the fastest-growing bike-sharing start-up in the world. Within 10 months of launching dockless scooters in Bengaluru, the firm had said it completed over five million rides, covering 30 million km.

Last year in December, Vogo formed a strategic partnership with Ola, where the ride-hailing giant will boost Vogo's supply by investing in 100,000 scooters on the Vogo platform, worth $100 million.

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