What is Ride Sharing?
Let’s say you and 3 friends plan to watch a movie at the theatre together. You all live in the same city and instead of all 4 of you driving, one person is designated as the driver for this movie. He/She will pick each of you up and drop you back home when the movie is over. That is an example of Ride Sharing or Car Pooling. This decision allowed the following to happen:
- You were able to save on gas.
- There were fewer cars on the road.
- Environmental pollution was reduced(assuming you all drive gas vehicles).
A Poor Transportation Sector
We have a severe traffic problem in the KSAMC(Kingston and St. Andrew Metropolitan Area). The sight of long lines of traffic on Mandela Highway and in the KSAMC itself is well known to many. The roads simply were not built to accommodate this high volume of cars.
Why? Why have so many people opted to buy cars? There are two main reasons for this:
- Poor Public Transportation
People spend hours on end waiting at a bus stop with no bus in sight. There simply aren’t enough buses to facilitate the number of individuals on the roads. Some of the buses on the road are damaged and leak whenever rain starts to fall. At times, entire sections of a bus will end up empty due to the amount of water leaking onto people. I have a vivid memory of someone holding an umbrella inside a JUTC bus.
According to the Minister of Finance, the number of licensed cars on our roads went from 330,000 to 473,000. This happened from 2016 to 2022, a 40% increase.
At the Budget Debate held earlier this year, Dr. Nigle Clarke announced that the JUTC will get 200 new buses in the next three years.
Crime and Reckless Driving
Crime is quite possibly the biggest reason why more people choose to drive. There are numerous reports of taxi-related abductions, sexual assault cases, and reckless driving. It is difficult to gauge the amount of these cases that happen every year given that some go unreported. People often fear for their lives when taking a taxi. The simple task of going from one location to the next causes some people to panic.
Some routes are only serviced by taxis so people often have no choice. There are good taxi drivers on the road however, they get overshadowed by the high number of bad ones. Seeing a video or two on social media about a taximan driving recklessly is quite common.
Despite higher fines implemented in the new Road Traffic Act on February 1st, taxi drivers can still be seen breaking the law.
If you happen to be at a stoplight in the KSAMC area, lookout for a random taxi appearing in front of you.
If we can reduce the number of vehicles on the roads each day then our traffic situation could vanish overnight. Let’s say that I live close to 2 of my co-workers(3 of us in total) and we decide to take an Uber. We gather at point A and book the ride then head to work. Uber allows you to pay in cash or by card. Given that the fare cost $1200, we each decide to give $400.
For that example to work you would need co-workers to arrive on time and drivers would have to be readily available. Many people drive for convenience so it would be hard for them to compromise. However, if we can agree as a society to make this compromise then it could truly benefit us all.
This type of compromise would lead to more people doing Ride-Sharing as a full-time job. This could be a real alternative for good drivers. As riders increase, reviews are submitted and reports are filed; we could end up with a safe and efficient group of drivers. Emphasis on safe because more needs to be done to filter out the bad drivers.
Community Associations can play a key role in pushing this ride-sharing initiative. If two persons in the community group are going to the same place then it could be arranged for them to book an InDriver.
There are events that happen annually. The community knows that several members attend Champs on Saturday. Instead of driving to the event, they could book several InDrivers to drop members at the stadium. This removes the need to worry about gas, theft, and vandalism. Traffic at Champs could be greatly reduced and there would be fewer worries about car theft.
This type of ‘community-driven’ thinking can be applied to all sorts of transportation needs.
Give It A Try
I can certainly see a Jamaica where we have less traffic on our roads. Ride Sharing can help us to get there very quickly, however, cooperation is required among our people. We have far more to gain from trying out this type of initiative. Some Jamaicans have already started to use ride sharing in this manner. What we now need is a much larger buy-in from society at large.
InDriver seems to be the dominant app locally since it allows Jamaicans to negotiate fares. The barrier to entry is lower than Uber which means that virtually anyone can sign up. The system is not perfect since there have been some incidents related to bad drivers. This is why it is imperative for reports to be made and for social media pressure applied if needed.
Uber seems like the more efficient app. It allows you to add stops and tip drivers. You could set a friend’s l location as a stop, pick up that friend then head to the final location. This could be done for a drop-off, as well as many other use cases.
You can sign up for Uber using my referral link here. This will allow you to earn up to $4,500 extra after completing 100 trips. Uber doesn’t advertise much in Jamaica much so many aren’t aware that it is available here.
Encourage your friends, family, and community members to give Ride Sharing a try. This might just be the alternative they needed.