Road sense | mb.com.ph | Philippine News
Home  » Others » Motoring » Road sense

Road sense

Car sharing and personal vehicles

Metro Manila’s horrible traffic situation needs a radical solution. And it should be so radical, it will likely meet acceptance and protest. The people — not only the government — should realize that we have come to the point where only strong solutions and strict implementation will be required. There should be no place for exemptions.

Toyota i-Road

Toyota i-Road

I will dare suggest the use of car sharing in high-traffic areas. I do not mean “car pooling” where a group of people going the same direction share a ride.

The car sharing system requires the use of personal vehicles (PV), those three-and four-wheelers that can sit only one to two riders. Those vehicles, which are not yet in the country, are being used in many parts of the world as part of an efficient and very successful car sharing system. If the demand is there, getting PVs into our country will not be a problem at all.

A week before the Tokyo Motor Show, in October last year, five units of the Toyota i-Road, a three-wheeled ultra-compact PV, and 25 units of the Toyota Coms, a four-wheeled single-passenger PV, joined the car sharing service of Times Car Plus (The company is primarily engaged in the business of managing car park buildings.). Only a week after the launch, and the project managers are already thinking of increasing the number of i-Road and Coms PVs in the system.

2The system runs on subscriptions and allows members to pick up an EV parked in specific stations around Tokyo and return them in another station.

The Toyota Coms (2395 mm in length, 1095 in width and 1500mm in height) requires a small road space. Compare that to a subcompact sedan which is 4410mm length, 1700mm width, and 1475mm height; or an SUV which measures 4705mm length, 1840mm width, and 1850mm height.

PILOT PROJECT

The car sharing system was piloted in Toyota City two years ago, with only 10 units. The system quickly moved from pilot project to popular transportation. Today, there are 100 Toyota Coms used by the subscribers in Toyota City.

3Simultaneous to its pilot launch in Toyota City, the car sharing project was launched on Sept. 12, 2014 in Grenoble, France. There, the Toyota i-Road was part of a fleet of 70 ultra compact EVs, part of a project to study a new style of urban mobility that will reduce traffic congestion.

It was not that Grenoble was experiencing traffic problems due to overpopulation. The city, which is located in the south east of France and about three hours from Paris by train, has a population of about 150,000. The population of the larger metropolitan area is approximately 400,000. The city, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1968, is a popular destination for winter sports. It is also known for its advanced level of learning and its research institutes.

In Metro Manila, I expect that the car sharing system will encounter some opposition. First of all, many still cling to their cars like a security blanket. But that’s not really surprising if one chooses to sit in traffic for three hours because the alternative is unreliable, inefficient and crowded public transportation.

6Second, there’s something comforting about riding in a big vehicle, so the option of riding a three- or four-wheel PV will need some time to be accepted.

Third, someone has to design a fool-proof subscription system that will guard the PVs from being vandalized, or God forbid, from theft!

And fourth, the government has to build the infrastructure to support the car sharing system.

But when such a system will be established in many parts of Metro Manila, imagine how many commercial districts will have less cars! Then people will go back to walking and find some kind of delight in that! That’s a wonderful thought.

Meanwhile, let’s learn from the Tokyo Motor Show. There were more than a dozen personal vehicles, which were also electric vehicles which major automotive manufacturers — Toyota and Honda — offered for test drive to visitors.

Apparently, the trend is becoming so popular that new manufacturers are coming up with PVs with new designs. The most interesting was the one that folds into itself to save on parking space. That allows “stacking” many PVs into a smaller space, like the technology of the supermarket cart. Incidentally, its maker is marketing the whole system to include a coffee shop and a place to park the PVs.

There’s even a PV for the handicapped and another designed for a sophisticated user, it looks like branded luggage with elegant trimmings. Suffice to say there will be one for everyone.