Malappuram: Hitch a ride from Ernakulam to Malappuram in an air-conditioned car for just Rs 250! Not a joke, as long as you have downloaded the Convoy car pooling app.
The app started by a group of techies working in Kochi Infopark also offers a road to lasting friendship. They started the app as a public service rather than a business.
Safuwan Paravaykkal and friends had been talking about the idea for three years. He had to travel to his hometown of Kottakkal every Friday evening and return to Ernakulam every Monday morning. So did his friends, who hailed from different parts of Malappuram district.
Paravaykkal, Jabir Ismail, Ahmed Shahir Pattanath, Muhammed Shameem, Muhammed Ijaz, K C Nabeel and Vipin Pradeep pondered over ways to overcome the high cost and the drudgery of long drives every weekend.
They were joined by K M Basheer from Wayanad and Praveen S Nath from Kochi. The first step was the formation of a WhatsApp group to facilitate car pooling among professionals. That collective eventually shaped up into a sophisticated app.
The app has grown beyond Infopark and the techie circles. Convoy has about 5,000 users in Kochi now. As many as 2,000 users are from the Malabar region in north Kerala. The app lets them travel to their hometown for as little as Rs 250, while a taxi ride would cost them at least Rs 3,000.
Car pooling works on the basic concept of sharing cars by people traveling on the same route. The idea was limited to friends or colleagues earlier but the advent of mobile phone apps have widened the scope of sharing. You could opt for pooling on your daily commute or a long-distance trip.
The passengers in the car will share the fuel costs and toll tickets equally among themselves. They even share the driving responsibility in long trips.
Convoy is available on Android and iOS platforms. The app is popular among women because it offers them a safer mode of transport, Paravaykkal said. Women can even opt for woman-only groups. They can report any incident to the admin of the app, which has features to collect feedback and suggestions.
Car pooling offers new friends every week, said Ismail. The new circles help because they are from different walks of life. Many people even use their ties from the app to hunt for jobs, he said.