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Avego: How To Take Cars off the Road, Now?

| Friday February 18th, 2011 | 3 Comments

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In our still car dominated society, traffic is, for the moment, a necessary evil. Sure, mass transit options are increasing in some cities, and numerous efforts are making bicycle commuting more amenable and doable. But rush hour is still a twice daily reality for most of us.

What can be done to reduce traffic, right now, at no additional cost and disruption to our current transportation infrastructure?

Avego is a viable option that merits attention.

What Avego does is brilliant: Remove cars from the road by enabling real time ride sharing. In a move that behavior change advocates would do well to take note of, Avego goes where people already are: their smartphones. Reducing the number of new steps needed to take a new action, via a familiar platform, is wise.

It works like this: A driver specifies the route they’ll be driving, via Avego’s iPhone app. Would be passengers request a ride, specifying their location, and can use either an iPhone or any web enabled phone. Drivers who are going along this route are notified of an interested rider. Avego calculates how much the rider should be charged to compensate the driver. When both agree to the ride, the passenger is directed to a convenient pick up location, and both are given a unique PIN number in order to verify identity of the rider.

Further leveraging modern day smartphone capability, the passenger gets real-time passenger information (RTPI) so that they know exactly how long to expect their driver to be. In another move familiar and now intuitive to people, both rider and driver can rate each other 1-5 stars. If either gives a 1 star, they’ll never be matched up again. I’m curious when/if this also bears on whether they are allowed to be a part of the Avego system overall?

Other useful features that will help Avego be of interest to a broader population are: each party receives a profile of the other, including photo and rating; customers can choose only to travel with people they already know and trust, the system even includes audio cues for drivers, so they can focus on driving.

As with any such tool, it takes a critical mass using it to be of benefit. As Avego puts it,

This is why we are working with partners to target specific communities where we can grow the network more quickly. If you are interested in developing a community of users in your area or organization, please let us know at info@avego.com

It’s a promising service, but I’m curious where they make their money. They take 15% of each rider fee, but that mostly goes to covering expenses. And if user fees don’t prove sufficient, will local municipalities pay to support this service?

Watch Avego in action:

Readers: Would you use such a service? If not, what would need to change? What other immediately impactful ways do you see to reduce traffic in your part of the world?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.


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  • http://weeels.org Alex Pasternack

    We certainly need to improve our bike and rail infrastructure, but we also need to learn how to better use the other tools we’ve built ourselves, the road infrastructure and vehicles we already have.

    If the mission is to make mobility more accessible — and if we want to pay less for transit, get where we’re going quickly, and reduce carbon emissions, sharing rides simply makes sense.

    I love what Avego is doing. Through the Social Transit Research Lab, I’m working on a project called Weeels, which is doing the same thing in NYC, but with taxis, which often ride around empty, clogging and polluting the streets unnecessarily. It’s about using our excess capacity, not letting it go to waste.

    Download Weeels for iPhone for free at http://www.weeels.org. It’s also in NYC’s soon-to-close Big Apps competition. You can vote for it here: http://bit.ly/weeelsbigapps

    – Alex Pasternack (Weeels, Social Transit Research Lab http://st-rlab.org/)

    • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

      Thanks Alex, that’s a great idea, given the density of taxis in NYC.

  • Uncle B

    Far too “Communal” for the as yet American spirit – wait until oil prices exceed wallet sizes, credit, and watch Yankee Doodle share!