According to recent data put out by Ola, Chennai is the third slowest city in the country in terms of traffic speed at 18.9 km/hour. Interestingly, Uber’s data shows that the city has 3.7 million vehicles and the highest vehicle density (vehicles per kilometre of road) in India.
Given the rising traffic woes, and the surge of cabs only adding to it over the past few years, cab aggregators Ola and Uber have been aggressively pushing their shared mobility offerings Ola Share and UberPOOL respectively, emphasising on the fact that it leads to decongestion of roads and saves fuel. In Chennai alone, Uber claims to have saved 1,84,000 litres of fuel and curbed 4.33,000 kg of CO2 emissions.
“With the launch of UberPOOL, our goal was to get more people in fewer cars at the push of a button. The result shows that 20% of all Uber trips in the city happen on UberPOOL… We aim to drive change to promote rational consumption of natural resources. Going forward, Uber would encourage people to further adapt to POOL which would mean that there are more people in fewer cars, leading to de-congested roads and less time spent travelling from A to B,” Arjun Srinivasan, General Manager, Uber Chennai says.
For customers as well, shared rides have become a hit, especially with IT professionals. Given the long hours spent in traffic, shared mobility helps in reducing the cost of travel for many.
Sharing some interesting data, in Chennai, the stretch where UberPOOL is used the most is SRM Kattankulathur to Estancia and most UberPOOL trips are taken to or from Anna Salai, RK Salai, T Nagar, Nungambakkam, Saidapet.
As per data from early 2017, in Chennai, Ola claims to have helped prevent over 1.2 million kgs of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere, saving more than 0.7 million litres of fuel through Ola Share.
However, for customers, the draw isn’t saving fuel or CO2 emission, but the cost they save against taking an UberGo, Ola Micro, or any other private car segment. One of the residents of Chennai who relies mostly on Pool rides, says that she plans her rides in advance, which lets her pay only one-third of what a normal cab costs.
Srinivasan, another customer who is also one of the most frequent users of Pool says that while it doesn’t really save him time, money saving is definitely a factor for using Uber’s shared mobility offering.
However, the problem of traffic persists not just in Chennai, but across the country. No wonder then that the government too, is pushing for shared mobility. A Reuters report states that Niti Aayog has partnered with companies such as Uber to assess the economic and environmental impact of using private cars as taxis. This could in fact be good news for cab aggregators, who have been criticised for increasing traffic congestion across the country, while trying to expand their fleet and stay ahead of competition.