The Government is reportedly working on guidelines for carpooling – a method of transport that is gaining popularity across Singapore. But why does the state want more influence in this area of life? Will it make the experience of carpooling better for either drivers or passengers?
Carpooling or car sharing is most often used for getting to and from work – and is a mode of travel that has captured the imaginations of people across the world as well as here in Singapore.
By sharing the cost of petrol – which continues to rise – transport outgoings can be cut dramatically for both the driver and his or her passengers. Carpooling may be cheaper than travelling by public transport modes such as taxis or the MRT.
Carpooling may also result in fewer cars on the road, which benefits the environment and makes Singapore’s air cleaner and more pleasant to breathe.
Depending on your driver, there may also be a benefit in terms of being picked up outside your home, saving you the time you once spent walking to and from the MRT or waiting for a taxi.
But there are some downsides – some of which the government is aiming to mitigate. Rather than being a simple way to reduce his or her motoring costs, some drivers may take the opportunity to make a profit from their passengers. While adding a little extra for maintenance, car insurance or COE costs may be understandable, there is a concern that some may go beyond this – to the degree that they may be regarded as ‘pirate taxis’.
On a personal level, too, car-poolers may have to see each other over a period of weeks, months or even years – sharing the same confined space for an hour or so each working day. Being able to ‘get on’ with one another, or at least not annoy each other, is perhaps as important as any cost saving. And if your driver insists of playing Celine Dion’s Greatest Hits every single morning, you could be in for some rough commutes – depending on your opinion of the French-Canadian super-songstress.
A whole industry has sprung up around carpooling in Singapore, with numerous websites helping to match drivers with passengers. The government may feel that this area, too, requires guidelines in order to ensure that people get what they pay for. Indeed, the more individuals and companies involved in the car pooling process, arguably the less economic the whole activity becomes. After all, carpooling was once often a casual arrangement between colleagues that benefitted all in roughly equal measure.
Whether you believe that the Government needs to draw up guidelines, or whether you think they are interfering in an area of our lives that does not merit it, it looks as if some protective rules or guidelines will be created.
If you are a carpooling driver or passenger, we would love to hear your thoughts and stories on this subject!
To the rest, you can find out more about car pooling here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpool
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