An ambitious nationwide car pooling system that has the potential to slash fuel bills, traffic congestion and air pollution has been developed by Carterton man Colin Hooper.
Inspired by the realisation that previous car pooling efforts have failed mainly through fear of the unknown, Mr Hooper's Drivemetoo concept is based around a membership network, communication and a fail-safe computer program.
The scheme had its beginnings years ago when Mr Hooper joined an advanced Landmark Forum course and had been told of a man who watched traffic on the Auckland Harbour Bridge for four hours before he saw more than two people in any one car.
"I thought that's ridiculous but then I realised many people don't even know their neighbours," Mr Hooper said.
From that realisation, five years of investigation, planning and research started and, although he went down many dead-ends, every one of them taught him something.
"Car pooling hasn't worked because of fear. It's not easy to make a cold call to someone you don't even know.
"So therefore car pooling as we now know it is only for over-confident, foolish and desperate people."
Mr Hooper's system involves the marrying up of travellers through interlinked systems and services utilising "extremely accurate" computerised maps that have already been created, covering the entire country.
Using the computer program and maps, both primary and secondary routes to any destination can be identified, linking any two points or addresses.
Everyone who registers and whose address is "verified" gets their own computer profile page for pursuing multi-option travel matching requests, with built-in safeguards monitored by Drivemetoo staff. The Drivemetoo base, expected to be located in Masterton, would have a computer set-up capable of handling 1000 requests simultaneously.
Mr Hooper said Drivemetoo was now fully developed and had already been run past New Zealand Transport Agency senior strategic planners.
Details of the scheme are with Finance Minister Bill English.
Mr Hooper said members were likely to pay around $5 a month to belong but savings would be huge. With the system at full capacity, he expected 60 per cent of fuel and parking costs would be saved over the entire membership.
There would be environmental benefits from less traffic congestion, the longer lifespan of cars and less demand for new roading.