Bumalift carpooling app to extend to University students

The Bumalift carpooling app will be extending its services to the University of Malta in the coming months, the team behind the app told MaltaToday. 

The carpooling platform will soon be launching its services for University-bound students
The carpooling platform will soon be launching its services for University-bound students

The company’s school app, which already has 223 users since its launch last October, so far covers six schools around the island, and the creators of the app say that the service already has the support of the University’s student council KSU to extend services to the area. 

“Drivers making use of the service to University of Malta will also get exclusive parking spaces,” content and user experience manager Guillaume Pons said. 

The carpooling service was created to offer an eco-friendly solution to commuting, by reducing the number of cars on our jam-packed roads, and hence reducing the levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Although the service is perhaps most noted for its service to bring school children together, it is aimed at anyone who has a “regular schedule” or route they follow. 

“We wanted to introduce the culture of carpooling in Malta,” Pons said, explaining the ethos of the team behind Bumalift, which includes the two co-founders, Shaun Grech, responsible for back-end development, Kevin Farrugia who takes care of the front-end development, and Pons, who joined the group after it was formed.

“We believe that traffic congestion is a major issue which wastes the time of commuters and also damages the environment,” he said. 

Pons added that according to Transport Malta, which already supports the initiative, the equation is a simple one, with around 120,000 people commuting on the roads between seven and half eight each morning. He added that around 100,000 of these commuters use their private transport, with around 84,000 people driving just themselves, not carrying any passengers. 

“Logically, if more drivers carry more passengers there will be fewer cars on our roads and we will get less stuck in traffic,” he said, adding that the app hopes to become one of the most popular means of commuting in the country by 2017.

The platform’s website invites people with a regular schedule to create their own routes and then accept requests from people requiring lifts to various locations, with the drivers who offer the most lifts ultimately benefitting from the group’s reward system. 

To this end, the company has already garnered support from a number of different companies and organisations, including insurance companies and shopping outlets among others. 

One might also add, that given that Transport Malta plans to develop High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes across Malta, the benefits to drivers using the system will increase, as users will be able to beat the daily traffic jams, and as a consequence, rack up cheaper fuel bills. Indeed, Transport Malta has already put up signs to allow drivers who carpool with more than one other passenger to make use of bus lanes. 

Pons explained that the Bumalift app introduces drivers to passengers so that they can find an agreement on the terms of their own carpooling initiative. 

“We are using an algorithm we designed in-house, to match the best drivers to the best passengers based on their own pre-defined criteria such as location, destination, time, and routes,” he said, adding that it was then up to drivers themselves whether to give lifts or not. 

The app, which is available on iOS and Android, also stipulates that all rides in question are available for free, with drivers unable to charge fees. He added that the team was also monitoring app usage and collecting feedback to better understand the needs and requests of users and to see how some issues can be overcome.