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Re: Shared taxis in Asia and Latin America - help appreciated

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  • ann_hackett
    ... this ... about them ... can make it ... our ... Efficient ride-sharing - Inspired by Chinese taxi-driver innovation This is in continuation of my previous
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 22 5:19 AM
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      --- In xTransit@yahoogroups.com, "Eric Britton" <eric.britton@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > The Wikipedia xTeam has got off to a fine start of an entry under
      this
      > important topic, and I would like to invite those of you who know
      about them
      > particularly in Asia and Latin America to pitch in and see if we
      can make it
      > more complete. You will find the entry as it stands at
      > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_taxi.
      >
      >
      >
      > In case it might be of interest, you will also note that there is a
      > 'Discussion' section (top menu), where I have just filed a word on
      our
      > eventual collective input, including in the public policy area
      > (www.xtransit.org <http://www.xtransit.org/> - in process).

      Efficient ride-sharing - Inspired by Chinese taxi-driver innovation

      This is in continuation of my previous discussion on Sromi (Ride-
      Share on 3G/GPS). This one concerns the picking up and dropping off
      of your friends or relatives over medium distance (ideally 50-200
      miles, or 80 to 350 km, or longer range). The problem we try to solve
      is how to utilize the wasted return leg of the journey. The
      inspiration comes from the innovation of Chinese taxi drivers on
      routes between nearby cities, in particular, between
      Shenyang/Changchun/Harbin, which I learned about a couple years ago.

      The Chinese Taxi Model: Background

      China has many cities of over 2M population, typically provincial
      capitals, separated by 1-3 hour drives. Examples are, Ningbo-Hangzhou-
      Shanghai, Nanjing-Wuxi-Suzhou-Shanghai, Harbin-Changchun-Shenyang,
      Shenzhen-Guangzhou, Beijing-Tianjin -- think NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC
      in US)

      There are bus and train services linking these medium sized (2M+
      population) cities, but often the schedules are not as good and
      tickets hard to get during long weekend or breaks (situation probably
      worse for US)

      So taxi services are quite popular, costing RMB300-600 per one-way
      trip. In addition, there are also taxi-pooling to fill the market
      between taxi and bus services. These are loosely organized among
      drivers themselves, or sometimes with agents specializing in luring
      customers who couldn't get a train or bus ticket

      The Chinese Taxi Model: The innovation is to ask the passenger to
      switch to a car coming from the opposite direction around the mid-
      point of the path, so that both vehicles only have to drive half the
      distance and can return with full load of passenger as well. This way
      both vehicles can save fuel costs, time, depreciation and even toll
      by halving the mileage, and part of the savings given back to the
      passenger via a price discount

      The passengers are typically charged at a discount (maybe 30%) to the
      full-trip taxis, but are told about that there will be a switch of
      vehicle -- (they are very confident that theywill find a car to
      switch with in long weekends, which means there is already a cirtical
      mass and scale in the network)

      In the case of China, the drivers usually skip the divided highway
      and instead drive on the undivided highways which usually run
      parallel to the toll highways. so that when he sees a likely
      counterpart approaching, they will flash the high-beam and there is
      mutual understand to stop by the road-side. The problem is that it is
      almost impossible to swap passenger on a divided highway, but as we
      will discuss later, with mobile internet and better planning, we can
      make it work in divided inter-states as well

      The passengers then switch car and neither driver owes the other any
      money, so that each takes what his original passengers paid
      There have been "return taxi pools" in almost every cities, (in many
      airports as well, e.g. taxi's at Shanghai going to Suzhou) where
      drivers try to fill passenger in their return trip, at a small
      discount. But the uncertainty is high and drivers usually have to
      line up and wait for half a day

      Mobile internet can greatly enhance the efficiency of this model

      While this is a great innovation, and proven in practice (according
      to passengers and drivers I have talked to), especially between
      cities with undivided highways where traffic is light (esp in
      Northeast China), the match-making is not as easy elsewhere. But
      mobile internet (Sromi) can change all that. Moreover, it can be
      applied to everybody, not just taxi drivers, e.g. parents who are
      driving their children to school after long holiday, or even shorter
      range lifts.

      There are two types of match-making

      Pre-trip arrangement: look for people who travels the reverse
      direction and make appointment on a gas station (or rest area) near
      the mid-point in a specific time. Good certainly, but potentially
      some waiting time if there is traffic delay or unexpected event from
      either side

      Mid-trip ad-hoc arrangement: when unexpected event happens in method
      1, or for those whose schedules are more unpredictable. Arrangement
      can be made instantaneously at rest areas (e.g. those on Inter-states-
      95 between Philly and DC where N and S bound share the same rest
      area), or when one driving and is about 20-30 minutes before the "mid-
      point".

      The technology and the match-making process (customer experience) is
      almost exactly the same as that I described previously
      in "Hitchhikers of America - a business concept". In fact, google has
      some beta service called ride-finder already, mainly for taxi
      drivers, though they haven't yet combines this with eBay style match-
      making.

      Unlike the previous case for ride-share or carpooling, the inter-user
      relationship is a lot simpler. This time both sides are both drivers
      and passengers, and there is likely to be no cash transaction
      involved and hence less complexity due to pricing. (except a match-
      making fee of $0.50-1.00 charged by the match-maker who keep track of
      user-reputation-rank/etc, and even this fee could be sponsored in
      part by government who encourages energy saving and reduce global
      warming). Also note in this application of Sromi, locational service
      such as GPS or Mobile Basestation Triangulation plays a bigger role,
      esp for ad-hoc match-making.

      An enhancement of this model is that it can apply for longer distance
      hitchhiking, if rest area becomes a car switching hotspot. It can
      also increase the feasible lifting distance, i.e. now that a 4 hour
      drive will only take up 2 hour to complete for the driver.

      ---

      p.s. Digression of why we see innovation from developing countries
      like China, I think it is a direct result of the different economics
      in these markets

      Labour cost and time is cheap, compared to fuel and equipment (car).
      People are willing to make small trade-off of cost over convenience
      (switching cars in this case -- see also previous discussion on de-
      aumotation in China). As oil price reaching $67/barrel, there is more
      similarity to the relative economics in US now

      The innovation in China was probably there for a few years already,
      since they did not tried to use mobile phone at all. Perhaps it turns
      out that the ad-hoc match-making on the undivided highway works
      better, as passengers do not have to wait at all.

      An unrelated, but similar observation of how a different market
      environment can change business practice is HK, where the high rent
      has driving up sales/area to be many times higher than, e.g. US. It
      also helps to explain the low BigMac price in HK, the rents, labor
      cost per unit sold is much lower in HK, because of extremely high
      utilization

      Source:

      http://sun-bin.blogspot.com/2005/08/efficient-ride-sharing-inspired-
      by.html

      Ann Hackett

      > Thanks for pitching in.
      >
      >
      >
      > Eric Britton
      >
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