EghtesadOnline: With a green agenda in mind, several Iranian startups have started offering carpooling services, among which a Tehran-based team "Hampasho" has managed to gain over 10,000 active users so far.
Carpooling (also car-sharing, ride-sharing and lift-sharing), refers to an agreement between a given driver and passengers with similar destinations to share a vehicle.
Originally backed by a startup accelerator based in Sharif University of Technology, Hampasho provides a platform dubbed "Hampa" introducing owners of vehicles to their potential travel mates. Hampa in Persian and this context means travel mate, according to Financial Tribune.
A driver may enter the full description of their designated trip, giving passengers a chance to examine their options, and eventually to book a spot in one's car, reported local technology website Digiato.
The startup has also launched an application which is available for iOS and Android devices.
Hampasho categorizes users into two groups: "Hamran" meaning the one offering the ride, and "Hampa" referring to the person requesting to share the ride with Hamran.
Preserving users' safety is top of Hampasho's agenda. The company has implemented various safeguards to secure the services s. Therefore, registering on the platform is not as easy as many might expect.
When signing up to the service, users are required to submit their personal information including National Identification Number, driver's license number, phone number, and email address.
Each user has a profile page on Hampasho's website. After the verification of their personal data, they will be granted an emblem of trust on their profiles by the firm.
Users are also ranked on the service which can help them gain more traction. Drivers can also write a short introductory text about themselves which can add a personal touch to their profiles.
Moreover, passengers and drivers can rate each other or write reviews regarding their shared experiences, or in some cases, shape friendships.
Multiple questions are listed when filling out the personal information segment on such subjects as one's attitude toward playing music, smoking, conversing, or in case of women, whether one would rather share a trip with female passengers or that it would not make any difference.
In case any problem occurs when arranging a trip, there are customer service hotlines that can assist a user in resolving the matter.
According to an article published by local app analyzer website Panevesht, Hampa's efficient user interface and its adequate data security module are among the distinguishing factors that give the platform the upper hand in the field of carpooling services.
An online payment platform is integrated into the app to arrange transactions. Hampa merely offers a fare that includes the service fees and the driver is the one who has the last word.
>Essential for Urban Life
Iran's major cities, including the capital Tehran, have long been struggling with suffocating air pollution and crippling traffic jams.
For instance, more than four million vehicles roam Tehran's roads, a figure that according to a former traffic deputy at Tehran Municipality is over five times the nominal capacity.
Maziar Hosseini says, "Tehran streets and freeways can hardly handle more than 750,000 vehicles. This is while every day more than four million cars ply the capital's overcrowded roads."
The municipality estimates that 19 million daily trips are made in the capital on any working day. Lack of sufficenct and efficient public transport is the primary culprit.
While several schemes have been introduced by authorities to mitigate the problem, many of them have failed to address the issue satisfactorily. Carpooling can help citizens curb their reliance on their personal vehicles to some extent and decrease the number of single-occupancy vehicles on roads.
Hampasho CEO Mostafa Qolizadeh says, "It is estimated that the number of vehicles will double by 2040 in the world, and even if all of these vehicles belong to the non-pollutant electric category, the ensuing traffic congestion will be inevitable."
Regarding the history of carpooling services, Qolizadeh noted that the idea goes as far back as the Second World War when a shortage of fuel made soldiers share rides in order to use petrol economically.
Qolizadeh mentioned the French "BelaBelaCar" as the first carpooling service established in 2006, arranging millions of daily carpools in Europe, saving time and fuel, and helping in the preservation of the environment.
He also talked about developed countries in which high-occupancy vehicle lanes have been used to speed up shared trips as an incentive to avoid making single-occupancy vehicle trips.
Public transport has let people down as a result of overcrowding and long delays. Annually, 985 million passengers clog the roads in Iran, solely 20% of whom use public transport—all the more reason to expand firms offering carpooling services.
Cutting down on single-occupancy vehicle trips, carpooling can decrease traffic congestion by 50%, prevent waste of time and money and dilute the already stifling air pollution.
Qolizadeh is of the opinion that operational, executive and customer service matters are the focal issues regarding the business, which if not adequately addressed could result in premature failure.
Carvanro, Rahsepar, Mibarim and 4paaye.ir are other similar platforms currently active in Iran. The no longer accessible "Chaparan" was the first carpooling platform developed in the country back in 2016.
Furthermore, major ride-hailing company Tap30 is poised to start offering carpooling services in the coming months which can give the sector a significant boost.