If you’ve ever driven around in Cape Town CBD on a weekday, you’ll know the struggle is very, very real. It’s gotten so bad that any destination where you have to cross Buitengracht is immediately reconsidered. Never mind trying to get out of the gridlocked city past 1pm in the afternoon.
In an attempt to ease the chronic traffic situation in the Cape Town CBD a carpooling pilot has been launched through Accelerate Cape Town (ACT). Together with a few of its corporate members based in the CBD, ACT has partnered with locally designed, built and maintained mobile app uGoMyWay, to remove excess cars from the roads by connecting drivers and passengers to each other to share their everyday journeys.
The need for the pilot project is underlined by the results of the latest Tom Tom Traffic Index, which shows that Cape Town has the most congested roads in South Africa. One of the reasons that puts Cape Town in pole position, is the fact that congestion levels demonstrate a 71% increase in journey time during the morning peak period when compared to free-flowing travel time. Contributing to this startling statistic is the fact that over 79% of cars entering the CBD only contain one person!
Available on iOS and Android, uGoMyWay allows users to create routine journeys such as, home-to-work or home-to-school. Matches are then ranked and a chat function allows users to establish a dialogue before personal details are exchanged. Once this has taken place, users decide who will drive and what the shared costs will be. As an additional safety measure, users can also request to be a part of a ring-fenced community, which includes only members of their specific workplace or school.
While still in its early stages, Chris Megan, co-founder of uGoMyWay, says the results of the pilot to date are positive and encouraging, with over 90% of users finding matches and which can then result in carpooling. “Large scale carpooling has huge benefits if you consider that every carpooling participant takes another car off the road, resulting in less congestion,” says Megan. “Real-time rideshare technology has the greatest potential to help solve the traffic congestion on our roads.”
“We are really excited to be spearheading this pilot”, says CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, Ryan Ravens. “Behavioural change is fundamental to easing traffic congestion since we cannot build ourselves out of the situation we are facing. Increasing congestion could dampen the economic growth of our city region. In an effort to meet increasing demand and to keep the city moving and growing sustainably, solutions that include the use of emerging tech, such as that of uGoMyWay, must be embraced,” says Ravens.
Urban mobility requires drastic change across the country and while the pilot is currently focused on the Cape Town CBD, the app is as applicable and important to other high mobility centres such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and even Stellenbosch for example. “Aside from CBDs, we also see the app as being of particular value in university towns” says Megan, “where young people are already mindful of the need to reduce energy use, are savvy about saving costs and of the added benefits of building new communities of like-minded people.”
The app is free and available to download on iOS and Android smartphones. Fellow-travellers communicate through an in-app secure chat function, discuss their trips and agree on a shared cost for the trip. Payment is handled through the app and settled on a monthly basis. The current recommended rate per kilometre is R1 and the distances are calculated automatically through the geo-location software of the app. Head to their website for more.