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January 4, 2014

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Carpooling set to get green light from city

CARPOOLING could soon be a legal option for Shanghai commuters, city transport officials said yesterday.

The Shanghai traffic management authority has made private car shares where occupants contribute to the journey cost a “reserved plan,” said Sun Jianping, director with the Shanghai Transport and Port Administration.

It is due for launch once research and preparations are complete.

Currently, carpooling is illegal and car owners caught operating what is deemed an illegal taxi service face fines of up to 50,000 yuan (US$8,261).

Beijing legalized carpooling on Wednesday in an effort to curb traffic congestion and reduce air pollution — problems that also afflict Shanghai.

Under the Beijing scheme, passengers and drivers must sign an agreement laying out driving routes, pickup locations, and payment.

Shanghai will have to look closely at factors such as risk evaluation and how to manage the scheme, Sun said.

“Before Shanghai officially launches the scheme it is essential to build a third-party or official platform to supervise and manage carpooling,” Sun said.

Informal schemes

After the World Expo 2010, Shanghai and Bremen joined forces to provide drivers with an online platform to exchange information about carpooling after the German city showcased its carpooling system at the event.

While carpooling has remained illegal, many commuters already organize their own informal schemes, often meeting up online.

Adam Tao, a local IT engineer who lives in Zhoupu Town in the Pudong New Area but works in Xujiahui, shares his car with three other commuters.

“Carpooling with other commuters who live nearby reduces my fuel costs and I have someone to talk with on the long journey,” Tao told Shanghai Daily.

He charges his passengers 10 yuan a day to cover the fuel cost and has become friends with his passengers.

On carpooling online platform, hundreds of drivers and commuters seek matches.

“Two to three female passenger, no smoking — lighter than 110 kilograms,” a driver posted on the platform.


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