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Easing congestion and saving money

Last updated 05:00 18/08/2010
BRIGHT IDEA: John Pearce, left, and Paul Minett have set up a car-pooling company called Trip Convergence. The pair have patented their idea for a flexible car-pooling system in New Zealand and Australia.

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Two bright-thinkers have created an "invisible solution" for Auckland's traffic woes.

John Pearce and Paul Minett are the founders of Trip Convergence, a company which has created a flexible car-pooling system.

The idea focuses on a community of car-pool users, where drivers can meet at agreed points and fill up their cars with pre-screened commuters.

"Single occupancy vehicles cause waste – in the form of 1.2 million empty seats travelling to Auckland each day," says Mr Minett. "The problem is, how are you going to get people to share rides?"

He says a mind-shift is needed by those who govern transport.

"If they were to offer a system that made it easy and safe, many more people would do it. Unfortunately there is a perception that this takes away from public transport, rather than complementing it. So first we need to resolve institutional issues.

"People will get in behind and use it. I characterise it like a drug and it needs a human trial. It's a traffic decongestant."

Mr Minett says inspiration for the car-pooling system came to him while stuck in traffic on the north-western motorway.

"I looked across at another driver and realised the person was probably going where I was."

Co-founder Mr Pearce says the system eliminates the morning-time overhead of arranging a ride. "Pulling into a car-pool area is easy."

He estimates car-poolers could save about two-thirds of their transport costs.

Since forming, the company has gained an Australian and New Zealand patent for the flexible car-pooling idea which includes meeting places, membership and ride credits.

Mr Minett says Canadian and United States patents are pending.

The pair recently approached the Auckland Regional Council's regional transport committee with the concept, and chairwoman Christine Rose has given it her support.

"It's really clear there is an important and growing role for car-pooling in the region. It is more viable and cost-effective than some other options, and it would work to complement public transport and private vehicle use.

"Car-pooling offers an increase in capacity that may not be available through public transport."

She says the potential is untapped and it would cater for those seeking a different level of service.

The system will be recommended to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and the new council transport body for consideration.

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