Traffic is a nightmare in South Africa, with many dreading the daily commute to and from work, not to mention the cost of petrol. Carpooling service CarTrip is looking at making travel easier and affordable for customers in SA.
The startup is founded by Chris Faur, whose story began when he became stranded in Spain with no train, car, or taxi in sight. His fellow traveller then gave him the idea to hail a BlaBlaCar.
“This guy arrives, picks us up at the local garage and we travel about 100kms through Spain. It’s literally just people going to work, going to family and you can just get a lift with them,” said Faure in an interview with Ventureburn.
When Faure eventually returned to SA, he wondered if anything similar to BlaBlaCar existed in the country. This later drove him to research the legalities surrounding what would eventually be CarTrip.
The startup launched in 2016 (with its app launching around January 2017) and has more than 750 members. According to Faure, this possibly resulted in 300 to 400 fragmented rides.
“There is sort of 20-million empty car seats as we sit driving around. If you’re on your own, there are three empty seats in your car. If we can connect those empty seats to people looking for rides, we can solve quite a big problem.We’re trying to expand this network so that eventually in five years’ time there’s another transportation option in this country.”
So what’s stopping passengers from formalising their own personal agreements with their drivers, eliminating CarTrip entirely?
“We’re taking a long-term view that once we have you as a customer we might lose you in the working environment which is the day-to-day thing, but we catch you in the roundabouts,” said Faure.
“We believe that through sharing and making it reasonably flexible and providing good service that they’ll choose us,” he continued.
The carpooling startup was self-funded by Faure and his undisclosed business partner. Together, they pooled their resources and have put over R1-million into the project. This has led the team to start looking for possible partners, especially short-term insurance companies similar to Santam or Mutual and Federal.
“They’ve got millions of cars on the road. You pay a premium, they’ve got to pay out claims so some benefit that we could offer Mutual, we’d say ‘well why don’t you get your guys to carpool’ which means they take a car off the road and put it in the garage. But they’d still pay a premium but your claims to the insurance company drop because the car’s not going to be in an accident,” said Faure.
CarTrip aims to change the mindset of South Africans around carpooling as an alternative transportation service
Faure also went on to explain the revenue model. “Similar to Airbnb, the driver that offers the ride doesn’t pay anything, he says I want to go from Woodstock to Bellville and the ride is R20. Our system calculates it based on a km rate or SARS reimbursement rate.”
When passengers book a ride, CarTrip adds on 15% and a R2.50 admin fee, which passengers pay with either debit or credit cards. Drivers are then only paid after the passenger is dropped off at their destination.
In terms of safety for both the driver and the passenger, it combines security systems and common sense. “Generally when you’re ride-sharing you’re picking up someone from your neighbourhood; that’s the whole idea. You’re not going out of your way. But also at the end of the day, it’s common sense,” said Faure.
Before a driver picks up anyone, they’re required to register a driver profile on CarTrip, which is then moderated. This means that your motor vehicle registration along with additional information is catalogued and displayed on the passenger’s phone. The same goes for the passenger and their profile.
If any information doesn’t seem correct when you’re being collected or collecting anyone, you can simply cancel the trip.
There are also many refining categories allowing you to pick up and be collected by someone who fits your criteria. For example, a female passenger can choose to be collected by a female driver if she doesn’t feel safe driving alone with a male driver.
After any given period of time, if you don’t like the person you’re carpooling with, you can simply go back to the app and request a different driver or passenger.
Since CarTrip’s launch, they’ve been dealing with corporates such as Standard Bank, ABSA, FNB, Liberty, and others to set up closed carpooling groups.
This allows their employees to not only travel to and from work but to also have exclusive access to other rides happening among their colleagues. This means that anyone outside of those companies will not be able to view the rides.
To incentivise drivers to register on the site, CarTrip has had to steer clear from allowing drivers to make a significant profit as this would mean they’d be a taxi service and not a carpooling one. With this in mind, they had to develop a rewards system, much like Pick n Pay and Clicks for example. This system would then link to various loyalty programmes.
A major issue with regards to CarTrip is that of the public’s perception to carpooling services. Changing their mindset is a big task, but it’s a task CarTrip seems ready to tackle.
Featured image: Tara Hunt via Flickr