Carpooling, ride sharing for convenience and cost savings 

It’s no longer a secret that Kenyan motorists, just like their counterparts globally, feel a great pain at the pump. When the Russia-Ukraine war broke out, it added more agony to an economy that already suffered a great beating from Covid-19. The spike in fuel prices has been a great one and car owners can tell their everyday struggle to keep their lovely rides on the roads. But amidst the gloomy situation, car owners especially in Kenyan cities have opted for carpooling or simply put, sharing a ride to the city after which everyone else finds their way to their respective workplaces.

Imagine having a few people from the hood who regularly board unreliable public transport to town. The matatu fares can be unpredictable and the tauts don’t know much about courtesy. You can easily relate how traveling in a public matatu can be frustrating. Such guys would not think twice about the option of riding together with you in the car and offer to pay you an agreed amount for fuel. 

Is carpooling legal in Kenya?

Any law abiding Kenyan will be quick to first find out whether the laws allow carpooling. To hit it right on the head, no specific laws that prohibit sharing rides with anyone in Kenya. Without a restrictive law in force, the practice isn’t illegal. 

Should you find a few people to ride together in your private car each day or quite often, there should be no worries at all. There could be a tendency for the traffic police, taxi operators and matatu owners to claim unfair competition but without a law against you, the activity can’t fail the test of legality.

Take for example a seven seater car and you have to drive to work and back each day all alone. Even with only you in the car, the amount of fuel used may not be much different from if a few guys joined the ride with you. As long as you carefully observe every traffic law, nobody needs to be on your case at all. Just that you have to remain highly vigilant not to expose yourself to raiders not well known to you. 

Dealing with the hike in fuel prices as a private car owner, driver

Anyone so used to driving a private car may not wish to imagine having to endure inconveniences of public transport. Imagine having to make long queues at the bus stand and waiting for hours just to board the matatu. It freaks to the core and car owners won’t easily take it.

A key reason that pushes so many Kenyans into buying private cars is the bad experiences in public transport. Like many others, you may recall a time when the unruly touts in matatus mishandled you. They literally use uncouth words like it matters not or literally hiked fare and no passenger would dare resist. Such tragedies really inspire people to have their own cars. Of course other factors such as convenience, ease of moving family and personal considerations also play a part.

Every time the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority announces new fuel prices car owners listen intently. In fact, in recent times, car owners hold their breath just in case things get better. The high prices of petrol and diesel means that car owners have to spend double just on fuel alone. 

Frustrated car owners in Kenya have chosen to stop driving to work completely. Other private car owners now only drive to work a few days a week. But, smart car owners have found value in helping themselves out on fuel costs by sharing a ride with others. 

Given that no laws stop anyone from riding with others on their own private car, the co-riders will give out their fare on public transport to subsidize your fuel expenses. Isn’t that such a sweet deal any car owner ought to embrace as a self preserving option?

Private cars beat public transport but fuel prices send motorists off the road

If you’re a regular car user and have to drive back and forth, it’s something that gives you the ability to manage your time gives. In fact, owning a car gives all the leeway one may need to be in charge of time.

One may choose to go for public transport as an alternative to save on the high cost of fuel everywhere but then the loss in terms of flexibility is immense. You will have to plan with the time it takes to connect trips and then walk to the exact destination. Someone who has been used to managing time to the second doesn’t want to imagine having to deal with the inconveniences of public transport.

As things stand, so many motorists have opted to park their cars at home and only use them once in a while. They have painfully gone the public transport route which means they have to wake up earlier than usual, factor in time wastage and just bea early in everything. Others have resorted to raid into their budgets and accommodate the higher fuel prices. But then there’s this carpooling trend that could just be the perfect savior that some may have not well considered. 

Benefits of carpooling any Kenyan car owner can’t afford to miss

While carpooling is only gaining momentum during this period of high fuel prices, environmentalists can only hope it climaxes. The benefits of car sharing go beyond just saving on fuel costs and include among other things;

  • Car sharing leads to better fuel efficiency at both individual and grand scale.
  • It saves you the lonely and boring rides 
  • You get to share the costs of fuel
  • Helps to decongest the cities 
  • There’s an extra feeling of security with others in the car with you
  • If any of the co-riders has a drivers license, you may take turns at driving which saves you the strain navigating the traffic shawl-ups each morning and evening.

Downsides to carpooling

  • Low sense of privacy
  • Possible clash with public transport operators
  • Likelihood of co-riders who try to joy ride sometimes
  • Once in a while it is inconvenient if one person shows up at the meeting point a little later than usual.
  • You will have to literally be going to the same or near the same final destination otherwise getting off people at different places ends up wasting much time.

A final take on carpooling

Right now when fuel prices remain high and even later if it stabilizes, carpooling ought to be your popular routine. You may have to consider what benefits the practice gives you as a person and also the others who may join the ride with you.

Given a proper plan and communication between those who share rides, it would be a great way to go. Should it appeal to you as a typical way to subsidize your fuel expenses and draw other benefits that accrue, do not hesitate to go for carpooling as a car owner. 

Fredrick Awino

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