Raspberry Express is car-pooling for those who need flexibility with their travel plans. Sophie Bond reports.
When Steve Braddock drives from his home in Manly to work in the inner city, the 40km trip usually takes longer than an hour.
As his car crawls through morning traffic on the Northern Motorway he despairs at the inefficiency of all the single-occupant vehicles clogging the lanes around him.
He believes a new car-pooling scheme serving the Hibiscus Coast is just what commuters need.
"Raspberry Express is a different attitude to car-pooling. I'm in sales and management, so I need a vehicle for work but, with this concept, you become part of a larger family and you can just turn up when it suits and assist others while alleviating the number of cars on the road.
"I'm keen to become involved. It's logical as so many of us travel the same route on a regular basis."
Raspberry Express is a car-pooling system devised by Aucklanders Paul Minett and John Pearce which does not rely on pre-arranged trips.
The first proposed route for the service is from Silverdale to the Albany bus station, where 86 preferential parking spaces are set aside for arriving car-poolers.
Mr Minett says he needs more people to sign up for the route before it can be launched.
"The park-and-ride presents a great opportunity and reportedly a big proportion of the people parking at Albany are commuting from Hibiscus Coast."
Mr Minett says he worked out the Raspberry Express while stuck in traffic on the Northwest Motorway.
"I could see that the cars next to me had only one person in them and were probably going to the same place as I was, central Auckland."
He says his system works for commuters with variable schedules and allows people to be driver one day and passenger the next.
Participants go to a meeting place and fill cars in order of their arrival. There is no pre-arrangement of who will ride with whom. Mr Minett says a vetting process for participants would be decided by the local user groups but would probably include personal referees and checks of police and driving records.
"Mainly, we want to know that people are safe drivers and not violent criminals or petty thieves."
He says the cost of using the service will be comparable to public transport and he has devised a text message-based system that allows for a simple exchange of ride credits between driver and passenger. Mr Minett is confident the system would also work on Onewa Rd and has asked the Kaipatiki Local Board for funding and support.
"We need a clear message out there about how many trips we need to reduce to avoid congestion and get the traffic flowing. Currently in Auckland, 1.2 million empty seats are being driven to work every day. It's no surprise we have congestion."
Mr Minett is a founder of the Ridesharing Institute, an international think-tank focused on doubling ridesharing worldwide within 10 years.
If you would like to know more about Raspberry Express and register interest for the Silverdale to Albany car-pool route, see: www.raspberryexpress.co.nz