Cape Town based UGOMYWAY has reached an important milestone in the wide-scale uptake of carpooling with the launch of UGOMYWAY for the Apple iPhone. The app went on general release in the App Store during January 2017.
With more than 1,000 downloads on Android, since its launch in March 2016, the company has been diligently chipping away at raising awareness of carpooling, promoting the app and improving the user experience with feedback from early adopters.
Cape Town has the most congested roads in South Africa and yet nearly 80% of the cars entering the CBD on a daily basis have only one person in them. UGOMYWAY aims to remove cars from the road by connecting drivers and passengers to share their everyday journeys. The app allows users to create routine journeys such as, home-to-work or home-to-school. Matches are then ranked and a chat function allows users to establish a dialogue before any personal details are shared. Users decide who will drive and what the shared costs will be. They can then make payments from within the system.
As an additional safety measure, users can also request to be a part of a ring-fenced community which includes only members of their specific workplace or school.
Combining the transport chops of UBER, with the instant messaging of WhatsApp and then rounding it out with the mobile wallet capabilities of SnapScan would have worried many a hardened app developer. Delivering this functionality through a ‘world class’ user experience on both iPhone and Android becomes a massive undertaking. With hundreds of carpooling solutions out there this was the minimum required to move the dialogue forward. It’s taken three gruelling years to achieve this.
Seeding the transport corridors was the next challenge. The first 500 users were unlikely to find a match in the system. The next 500 found the first 500, but had no way of reaching out to them. Fortunately, improvements in push notification technology have allowed this dilemma to be overcome. Notification of a new match or chat message can now be received even if the app has been closed.
To coincide with the launch on iPhone, UGOMYWAY was selected by Accelerate Cape Town, together with a group of its corporate members based in the CBD for a pilot during January. More than 180 employees attended five workshops over a two week period. Of those who downloaded the app, who then created their routine journey, more than 90% got a good match within the system clearly demonstrating the network effect. The pilot is the first step in rolling out the app to other large employers in the CBD.
Carpooling is not the only solution to the congestion crisis that besets the road network in Cape Town. However with the appetite demonstrated this far, it has clearly revealed its importance in the urban mobility choices of the city.