We wanted to share with you the story of why we built Cabshare.
It emerged from the hardship we had faced, just as you do when you travel to another city or, in your daily commute or, the many times you take an auto or a cab – late nights, rainy days, emergencies, all those unpredictable days.
The year was 2006 and Rajan was based out of Mumbai. He was a frequent business traveller. And then his father fell ill in Chandigarh, and he found myself travelling to Chandigarh almost every weekend.
He was regularly taking cabs to and fro the airport in Delhi and Mumbai. Additionally, the commute between the airport and railway station in Delhi was a nightmare! It wasn’t long before Rajan began to think‘what a waste’. It wasn’t just the fare he was thinking of, there was more than one aspect to this waste and we’ll come to that in a minute.
Soon after, Rajan moved to Gurgaon but his business travel continued. Gurgaon city travel was as painful as that of Mumbai. To make things worse, airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad shifted out of the city so that airport-to-hotel time doubled. In the beginning, Rajan didn’t notice it. We never do. When things get progressively more difficult or inconvenient, we tend to adjust ourselves to the new situation.
But, with the earlier thought of‘what a waste’already going through his mind, he couldn’t help noticing that it was a very long way from airport into the city, particularly in these two cities – and boring, if we may add. The first leg was open monotony after a couple of trips, more so if you land in the dark, and the second leg – the city stretch – well, the cab crept in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It was monotony and boredom of a different kind – of narrow, frustrating impatience.
We couldn’t change the distance nor the traffic, but we could change the circumstance – the boredom of it all. Rajan could have company within the cab – if only he could share the cab with another person, or persons.
At a personal level, the cab fare didn’t have to be as high. It could be halved. At the level of earth and its future, which we believe we must be conscious of and act upon, we were adding to the carbon footprint. We were adding to the clogged traffic too which adds its own considerable bit to pollution.
What if sharing cabs became the defacto mode of travel?
We would be correcting so many things in one go – fares would be halved, traffic congestion would ease, the level of pollution would be lower, and our carbon footprint would reduce too!
Rajan shared the idea with his friend Rohit. He concurred with Rajan’s view. They then shared it with Kunal, a batch mate and friend from IIT Delhi. They then roped in Pankaj, another common friend.
Each of us shared our experiences and could relate to the benefit we would individually realize and society as a whole if cab sharing was an option. Kunal, too, works in Delhi and would frequently fly the Mumbai-Delhi corridor. He would often see that when he lands at the Delhi airport, several cab-seekers queued up and waiting a while for their turns, although a fleet of Meru Cabs is available to carry passengers – which is a perfectly systematic way of managing the current set of things, butwhat if there can be a better way? A completely different way?
One evening, Kunal’s flight was delayed due to heavy rains in Mumbai. Assuming he could easily summon a Meru cab when he landed at the Delhi airport, he told his parents not to send the car to pick him up at the airport, that he will take a cab home. When it reached Delhi, the aircraft hovered in the
air, landing finally at 1 in the morning. By the time he awaited his turn in the Meru taxi queue, got into a cab and reached home in Gurgaon, it was nearly 3am!
We have taken these inconveniences for granted, that things will remain this way.
What if we didn’t have to wait so long at the cab queue?
What if we can share a cab or an auto with another?
What if we can have company during the rides?
What if all of us shared cabs? Or autos?
What if we can easily find the people ready to share a cab or an auto with us?
More such experiences emerged as we talked Of colleagues stuck at the HUDA City Metro Station in Gurgaon for want of a cab,particularly when it rained , although it’s quite easy to share a cab at this point. Or at CST Station in Mumbai. So, when a colleague who reaches office late, says, “Couldn’t get a cab or auto,” or “Traffic was terrible,” we had to go with that reason – a perfectly valid reason when we didn’t share cabs.
The Metro is a great improvement for Delhi. But, if you didn’t stay near the Metro station, reaching the Metro morning or evening is still a terrible inconvenience. Returning home at night from the Metro station can be hell. What do you do after the Metro shuts at night? How do women reach home safely after that?
Adding to the Metro woes, people were travelling all the way from Noida to Gurgaon and back to Noida – 40-45 kilometres each way, every week day of their lives, a large part of their lives spent in the daily commute…
What if you shared a cab with a stranger, yes, but a stranger you can trust, so that you have a safe, assured and less expensive ride home. It could be a quiet ride if you’re tired or you could connect with your companion and make a new friend as well…
Cab sharing is more than just saving a substantial part of the fare. That’s just the initial benefit.
When the idea of cabshare kicks in, as it is doing across the world, and with great speed in India too, traffic will be that much more manageable and we leave a cleaner earth for our children to live their lives. Meanwhile, our own lives will become safer and with the company of others to enjoy and to enhance ours.