How Tech Startups are Working to Solve SA's Traffic Problem

CarTrip, Mellowcabs and Locomute are turning congestion on the roads into a viable business


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Traffic is a massive problem in South Africa.

In Cape Town over 70% of motorists drive alone in their cars during peak hour traffic between 6am and 9am according to a recent survey conducted by ridesharing platform CarTrip.

The startup conducted the survey of more than 1 000 motorists on the streets of Cape Town, to find out just how many drivers travel alone at peak times in South Africa's most congested city. 

According to the survey, if these 1 000 motorists had rideshared with three others, the number of cars on the road would go down by 75%.

In 2013, the TomTom global traffic index revealed that Cape Town is the most congested city in South Africa, with a global ranking at 55th place, a press release by CarTrip states.

"The same survey revealed that traffic peak times have increased from two hours (07:00 – 09:00) to four (06:00 – 10:00) and that most of the congestion is caused by vehicles with single occupants."

The press release further states that the national figures tell the same story.

"There are over 10 million cars and bakkies on the road and 70% of these vehicles have three empty seats which leaves 20 million empty car seats in South Africa," the statement further reads.

CarTrip founder, Chris Faure says, "If we could fill a portion of these empty seats with passengers it would dramatically reduce congestion on the roads. Given the size of our population and the amount of cars and empty seats on the roads, sharing your car with two or three other passengers could reduce traffic by more than 50%."

Faure adds that each carpool of three people saves approximately 5 tons of CO2 emissions annually and 2200L of petrol, with acres of parking space made available.

Here are three startups that are looking to help solve the country's huge traffic challenge.

MELLOWCABS

The company, launched in 2012. They manufacture and operate electric micro-cabs that provide low cost, eco-friendly and convenient transport and taxi services in urban settings including Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The taxi service works together with the Mellowcabs mobile app, which connects commuters and cabs. In addition to the taxi service, Mellowcabs also offers a delivery service for goods.

The pedal-electric hybrid pedicabs provide quick and easily accessible transport within short distances in a specific area. The startup is hoping to provide convenient last-mile transport service that will encourage more people to leave their cars in the garage and use public transport. For, example for someone needing to go into the notoriously congested Sandton, rather than using a car to get into the CBD, the idea is to leave their car in the garage and use public transport to get into Sandton and then hop into a Mellowcab to get around the district.

Mellowcabs is also working with the City of Cape Town in their effort to reduce carbon emissions and improve economic efficiency. One of these initiatives is the Travel SMART Programme.

The aim of the programme is to encourage and support a shift in travel behaviour towards more sustainable travel options, within the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government as well as other large organisations in the Cape Town CBD.


See also: Mellowcabs wants to revolutionise inner-city transportation

 

LOCOMUTE

Locomute aims to bring flexibility to the car rental industry with their car-sharing startup. ​The service is targeted at users who need the use of a car for short trips (think a trip from the airport to several meetings and back), or even one-way trips. There is also a short term rental option of up to three months available. 

Users access the service through an app which allows them to reserve a car, locate the nearest one and to also unlock the vehicle. Cars can be accessed in public areas including shopping malls, street parking, filling stations. At the end of the trip, users lock the vehicle using the app.

Locomute is looking squarely at the last-mile transport sector which, according to Ventureburn, is quite significant as the vast majority of South Africans who commuteuse public transport and walking as the predominant 'lifeline forms of mobility'.


See also: Locomute is bringing car sharing to SA - this is how they hope it pays off

 

CARTRIP

​CarTrip is an internet-based ridesharing platform that allows drivers and potential passengers to connect using a PC or through their mobile application.

The app allows passengers to search for a driver who is going in the direction that they wish to go. Once the passenger has found their ride, they can chat to the driver to make an arrangement and then book online. The driver picks them up and drops them off along the way.

CarTrip hopes that through their platform, more people would be able to get around through ride sharing and so help get more cars off the roads.

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