Fixing good public transport in the countryside can be tricky. No one wants to leave their car for insufficient bus services. On the other hand it’s hard to invest in new bus services if you can’t be sure that they will be used.
Instead of getting stuck in this dilemma, the inhabitants of Tolg [map], a small village close to Växjö in the South of Sweden, decided to do something about it. After all there are a lot of vehicles moving on the roads, and they are far from full, they thought – and designed a web based car-pooling system.
Through a web site people can offer or ask for rides, and bookings and confirmations can also be made by mobile phone text messages. The passengers pay the driver 6,70 Swedish kronor (about 0,7 Euro) per 10 km, and the money is transferred through the booking system.
Now the village of about 550 persons has almost 130 registered users who together have car-pooled approximately 12000 km since they started in March this year.
– Most of our users are people who want to get to and from their work in Växjö. But this system has also opened possibilities for those who want to stay in town for a drink after work, or youngsters who can go into town on the weekends without their parents having to drive them there, says Kajsa Holst who is living in the village and working with the further development of the system so that it can be spread to other places.
Several Swedish villages and regions have already shown their interest. There are also companies that want to make it easier for their employees to get to work, that are curious.
But the car-pooling isn’t just good for the villagers’ economy and the environment. It has also had social effects, Kajsa Holst tells me. For example new groups spend time together, like the elderly man who takes his car into town every Tuesday, and get to share his car with youngsters from the other side of the village going for their training.
– You notice that there are things happening in the village when people get to meet like this. We can thank the car-pooling for a new barbeque spot, the development of a beach and several parties.