NEWS

Website spreads word of carpooling in Greece

The idea of carpooling, which was first introduced in Greece five months ago, has been well received by the public. Apart from sharing expenses it provides company for the journey to work. Two students have created a website where people can get in touch and share a car to work (or elsewhere), while contributing to petrol and other travel costs. One of the founders of the carpooling website (www.carpooling.gr), Giorgos Sakellaris, said that 4,000 people visited the site in March alone (in February the figure was not more than 700) and the hits were close to 93,000. «There is considerable interest from the public,» he said. «These days, when petrol is so expensive, many are looking for alternative ways to travel. Many have asked me in their e-mail to make a site sticker so that they can put it on their car window. Carpooling has become a kind of movement,» he said. At the moment, there are 672 users on the site, mainly from Athens. «Imagine a driver spends 100 euros a month on petrol, and if he uses Attiki Odos he will have to pay an additional 100 euros,» Sakellaris said. «Why not halve the costs with someone heading in the same direction and instead of paying 200 euros, which is a third of the basic salary, pay 100 euros?» Less pollution Although commuting to and from work seems the main interest of the website’s users, carpooling on longer trips is gaining popularity. In a city like Athens, where over 8 million car trips are made daily (40 to 45 percent of which are trips to and from work), carpooling is naturally more beneficial and can contribute to reducing congestion and air pollution. Cars are responsible for 20 to 25 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions – every liter of petrol burnt produces 2.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide – and many other pollutants. There is no charge for using the website. Visitors register by stating the destination to which they would like to carpool and whether or not they have a car. Since carpooling has been a hit, some of its advocates are suggesting car sharing, which has been successful abroad. Subscribers of car-sharing companies (private or state) pay an annual fee and «buy» access to a car when they need it. The company that owns for the shared car takes care of maintenance, petrol and insurance costs.