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High-tech Hitchhiking: Sean’s Story

Live in New Delhi? Work in Gurgaon? Live in Vasai and work in Nariman Point? You’re probably spending upwards of ten hours a week driving to work and back. You’re most likely alone in the car. As are thousands of others lined bonnet to bumper on the jammed roads.
The faces of your co-commuters reflecting the despair and angst you feel yourself. The odd road rage incident aside, most seem to have resigned to their fate. That’s the way things are, you see.

If folks like Sean O’Sullivan have their way, things can and will change for the better.
Tucked away in an isolated office complex in the outskirts of a small Irish town called Kinsale, Sean and his team are working on ideas to help people travel fast, cheap and green.

As MD of Avego, Sean leads a diverse multi-cultural team that’s enabling ‘on-demand real-time ridesharing’. One of their products (currently in ‘Launch and Learn’ mode) is a free iPhone app called ‘Shared Transport’.

The application connects drivers with spare seats in their cars to people looking for a ride along a similar route. Free from the rigidity of car-pooling, drivers can choose riders they’d be comfortable with, on routes and schedules that suit them. There is a rating system for both parties, enough information shared to ‘size up’ your prospective ride and rider and designated pick-up / drop-off points to ensure a smooth and convenient ride share.

At the end of the journey, Avego charges the rider on a predetermined, per mile rate. 85% of that fare goes straight to the driver and the rest to the enabler- Avego.

Apart from lowering the transport cost, tools such as this application, help decrease the social cost of single occupancy
vehicles- lesser traffic congestion and CO2 emissions and decreased dependency on shrinking fuel resources.

Responding to concerns that people wouldn’t want to share personal space with strangers due to safety concerns, Sean says, “You’re far safer with a user of this application than on most public transport. We have detailed information about all our users, including credit card and billing information and their location!”

The success of this application lies in gathering critical mass. Sean knows that asking people to make a lifestyle change is never easy. “If you have a great idea, you need to give it time, you might not be able to change the world in a year or two… but you can in twenty!”

Sean’s enterprising spirit and desire to constantly improve things for the better took him to war-ravaged Iraq in 2003. He went there with the belief that he could engage the Iraqi’s to rebuild their country. He established ‘JumpStart International’ to engage the community in ‘income-generating, community-building’ projects. In a matter of months, JumpStart was employing thousands of Iraqis. The organization continued to work despite threats, kidnapping and even the death of å
key member of the team. JumpStart has since reached out to support communities in difficult situations across Africa and the Middle East.

Sean’s enthusiasm and optimism are infectious; he’s an idealist and a doer. All the naysayers with their doomsday theories have been unable to shake his conviction. I left our meeting feeling enthused and hopeful- it really is an idealist’s world that we should all aspire to live in.

I counted 27 cars with single occupancy on my way back to from Kinsale to Cork… Hopefully someday, there’ll be half as many cars with twice as many passengers in them.

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17 Responses to “High-tech Hitchhiking: Sean’s Story”

  1. Chelian M Kumar says:

    Love the spread of heroes you are covering tithiya. Great work by Sean!

  2. nilesh pujari says:

    i think i read about one of these such companies called carticipate. its a ride sharing application.

  3. Kannan Sankaran says:

    love reading your column in hindustan times, you are living my dream. i just discovered the blog. you shd mention it in your article as well!

  4. Sanjot Dalvi says:

    interesting, the fact that they have detailed reviews of drivers and hitchhikers as well as profile information makes it safe too.

  5. Jash Sayani says:

    good work tithiya. keep it up!!!

  6. Patrick Aljord says:

    cork jazz festival must just be around the corner. you must check it out. best in the world!

  7. rajarshi banerjee says:

    from sexworkers, teachers, social activists, environmentalists… this is one great heroes list.

  8. Arnab says:

    very good work. hope its effective, technology and car pooling

  9. Madhur says:

    That is a great technology for environemtn! Thank you for the informative post!

  10. Rajat Bajwa says:

    does the application work in india. but how many have iphones?

  11. Mark P. Stuebi says:

    this is a small but effective answer to the efficiency vs. conservation debate that occurs frequently among energy and sustainability circles

  12. Kim Gutenberg says:

    I think we need to be mindful about NOT over hyping green(er) technologies. How many people actually use this application? – Kim

  13. dad says:

    let’s not forget the wisdom in “a drop makes the ocean”

  14. Amarnath Yadav says:

    very good effort

  15. Suraj Mehta says:

    its fair to evaluate an idea for its effectivness.

  16. Howard says:

    your doing such a great job. the breadth of your heroes is thought provoking. keep up the good work.

  17. Thanks for the post. Keep up the great work!

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