Road.lk, the country’s first and only crowd-sourced traffic alerts service, is about to introduce a novel way for Sri Lankans to commute and, in the process, significantly reduce rush hour traffic in the city and suburbs, via a dynamic, online carpooling system.

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How Does It Work?

  • You log in to Road.lk and enter your starting location and destination
  • The system works out the best route available, which it saves to its database
  • It then compares your route with others that have already been entered to the database
  • If the system finds a route that overlaps with yours and if the time frames are compatible, you are presented with a match.
  • If you decide that you like the match, you now have a new ride to and from work that beats any taxi service currently available and, more importantly, at a minimal cost.

When Can I Start Using It?

According to founder Raditha Dissanayake, Road.lk held a successful demonstration at the recently held TweetupSL, where folks from the Twitter community got to experience the service first hand.

“[TweetupSL] allowed us to present the system to a limited audience and the resultant feedback proved to be invaluable,” he says.

If all goes according to plan, Raditha is looking at a launch date somewhere in the first week of February.

The Cost

One of the biggest advantages of opting for a carpool is that it saves you a ton of money. Money that you’d otherwise spend on tuks or cabs. With this new system, the owner of the car may suggest a rate per kilometre that is agreeable to everyone involved and its taken from there.

“The passenger will find that the cost is less than the corresponding taxi fare. Road.lk collects the payment from the passenger (paid online) and transfers it to the car owner after deducting a small fee,” explains Raditha.

I Live In The Middle Of Nowhere. What If I Can’t Find A Match?

Chances are you will get more than one match, assures Raditha. You may either choose to maximise the overlap (i.e. cover the maximum possible distance between point of origin and destination) or, if you are concerned about safety, travel with someone you know.

This is where the inbuilt messaging platform on the Road.lk website comes in handy. On it, you may discuss and clarify crucial details such as the exact time and location of the pickup, duration of the trip, dress code, what kind of music is allowed etc. (Just kidding on those last two).

In the event a match isn’t immediately available, the system will keep looking for one, and every time a new ride is added to the system, it will be compared with your route for compatibility. If/when a match is found, you will be notified instantly.

The Big Picture

The long-term objective of the Road.lk’s carpooling service (incidentally one of the founding principles of the organisation) is to greatly reduce the number of vehicles on the road as a long-term solution to the heavy congestions the streets of Colombo are plagued with.

As anyone who has ever been stuck in traffic will tell you, commuting is not exactly fun. Nobody likes to do it. It’s just one of those things that you simply cannot avoid. However, it would be a lot less unpleasant if you didn’t have to navigate through a sea of traffic for it, often comprising of big cars and vans with one or two people inside. A colossal waste, to say the least, and a massive burden on the country’s resources.

“If even a small number of cars can be taken off the road, a dramatic reduction in traffic will ensue. As you might have noticed, during the recently concluded school holidays, the morning commute took less time than usual,” says Raditha.

The way things stand now, carpooling seems to be the obvious answer to this problem. And Road.lk just may have figured out the perfect way to go about it. Whether or not it will stand the test of time remains to be seen. The practicality and feasibility of an almost 100% crowd-sourced service such as this is also up for debate. However, given the company’s track record and the ever increasing popularity on social media, there is little doubt that commuters will respond positively and enthusiastically to this all new approach to fighting traffic.