BUENOS AIRES — Cash-strapped amid a deepening recession but still, in many cases, reluctant to take public transportation, Argentines are turning to car sharing or carpooling to move about.
This relatively environmentally friendly practice is well-established in some U.S. and European cities, but is still embryonic in car-loving Latin America. In Argentina it is catching on as fuel and car maintenance costs rise and public transportation remains defficient. Martín Rubio, one of the creators of SincroPool, a platform which facilitates sharing, says his firm provides companies with "a webpage allowing employees to coordinate their trips. We already have more than 30 firms including Volkswagen, Santander Río and Mercadolibre, with more than 15,000 users."
Some firms are opening pooling to employees of other firms. Mercedes Benz, for example — which created teneslugar.com for its employees — now shares this with Bayer. Its business development chief Verónica Pagniez says that in initial trials "20% of employees used the service daily. We are now open to other firms joining. People share trips to come and go to work and move between the main office and one of the car plants."
"Time is needed for Argentines to make the cultural change, but young people are responding well and we even have directors offering their cars," she said. Argentines between 25 and 35-years-old are responding best, preferring a "non-committal" style of sharing — nobody gets upset if a trip is cancelled and people agree on costs.
While sharing is usually between colleagues, often for security reasons, there are also more public networks like Vayamos Juntos. One of its creators Alejandro Van Morlegan says they have "60,000 users and while some share their daily commuting, many now get in touch for weekends and even for holidays."
Who is to say the love of your life isn't about to get into your car?