Dynamic Carpool Trial in Amsterdam - Five Years Later

From this blog.

May 13, 2009 by ahannula

In 2004, we conducted an interesting dynamic carpool trial at Schiphol airport (The Netherlands) with a local partner. It's since few years now, and I thought to take a look how the world has changed ever since. And trying to figure out whether the market (of dynamic carpool) will eventually be there or not.

The project was named "Easy-Rider". There were respectable sponsors involved, such as Alcatel, KLM, Volkswagen and ABN Amro. Despite free phones for the participants, well functioning service and working technology, the project failed miserably. The key reasons for this were wrong business model (service expected passenger to pay money and driver to earn money) and bad marketing. Customers simply didn't know about it so the critical mass was never achieved. The traffic in the pilot area was bad, but maybe not bad enough for the customers to change their behaviour.

Maybe somebody in that area (Schiphol) can comment whether the traffic is now (5 years later) better or worse that at that time?

Philippe Le Grand has written a good summary [here] of various alternatives for carpool services currently available. It is interesting to notice that there is for example one year old new service that resembles Ecolane system quite a lot :-) They are also making the same mistake concerning the business model.

I definitely believe that there will be a need to re-engineer the private driving sometimes in the future (see a good Nokia research paper on the subject here).

But who is going to be the first one to really make it? What are the critical success factors for this kind of service? Is it use of social networking (trust), government subsidies (like is the case for public transportation), some out-of-the-box idea (like connecting every car to a "seat exchange") or simply the fact that one day there simply are too many cars on the roads?

In some countries there are of course also cultural barriers. But that is another story then.

Comments are welcome! Best ideas win a free carpool place in my car (although I mainly commute by bike nowadays!).

About the Author

Currently working on Jobita and Venture Bonsai.

Long experience in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Awards in Futurist Writing Competitions; two patents (Finland, USA). Active role in building the first mobile services in late 1990s. During the Akumiitti-time, mobile ringtones were created (now a global business). In Ecolane, building the future demand-responsive transportation.

Focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, making things happen - keeping in mind team work & spirit, fun and "born global" attitude.

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