Daniel Claassen devised an online lift-sharing portal when he was recovering from a car accident.
“I had lived in the United Kingdom for six years after school, and a month after I came home I was involved in a car accident,” he says. “If it wasn’t for the way the accident changed my way of thinking, I might not have done anything about it; but I just jumped in and did it.”
Realising that carbon dioxide emissions could be significantly reduced by lessening the number of private cars on the roads, he did some research into piloting an online solution for sharing car trips – either regular commutes or once-off trips.
The number of cars on South African roads has increased dramatically over the past ten years. Private vehicles make up 33% of all vehicles travelling to work, and many of these are single-driver cars.
This increases emissions, congestion and wear on infrastructure.
“We know many people travel the same direction at roughly the same time each day; how many of these journeys could be shared?” he wondered.
Claassen and a friend developed a portal and a public network at findalift.co.za. The programme synchronises routes, letting the people who travel in the same direction at roughly the same time each day find each other and share transport.
He sees it as a way of encouraging people to change their transport habits, while saving money. Sharing an average daily commute of 25km there and back saves about 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
“We needed to knock on a lot of doors and convince people this is cool,” he says. “There were a lot of roadblocks and red tape on the way.”
Registering with FindaLift is free. Using mathematical algorithms and displaying matches on an online map, users can instantly see what their travel options are.
Personal account information is logged and saved, and a tally shows users how much money they have saved.
The programme is gaining traction in closed groups – universities, organisations and companies which pay a fee to use the software. It can be customised for staff members and other communities who wish to travel together.