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Ridesharing to the Rescue!

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Ridesharing to the Rescue!

Services like Tootle and Pathao are not only providing an easy commute, but also becoming a source of income generation.

If you are a woman in Kathmandu, getting from point A to point B involves a series of negotiations. First is figuring out how to get there. A taxi? There is no guarantee of a metered fare. Even if you get it, the fare is far too expensive for an average Nepali. A bus? First, you have to find a bus stop, which may involve a long walk, and footways are a luxury in much of urban Nepal. Then there is harassment, an overall experience that almost all women using public transport have faced.

When ridesharing companies like Tootle and Pathao started gaining popularity, these logistical negotiations changed. Since then, rideshare apps have become a lifeline for women and men as an alternative to the horrible public transport experience. The ubiquity of rideshare vehicles has had a lasting impact on the urban-dwelling women of Kathmandu, with ripple effects reaching college students, workers, and employees.

Priya Thapa, a student of Patan Multiple Campus and a part-time Pizza Hut employee, takes ridesharing as a boon. "My classes in Patan finish at 9 a.m., and at 10 a.m., I have to start my shift at Pizza Hut. The distance between my college and the work area is 4.3 km and should have taken just a few minutes by bus to reach. However, the public transport is so horrible that it takes more than an hour during office hours. "
She also stated that before the pandemic, she had to miss her last two classes to get to work on time, or she would not be able to earn enough money to pay for her college. Ridesharing wasn't as common back then. And commuting by asking for lifts wasn't considered safe.

"When I was in high school, I recall having to request a ride from one of the bike riders to get home due to an emergency. When I came home, my mom was petrified. She warned me not to ask for lifts, especially with men. "

Today, sitting on the back of strangers' bikes/or cars is standard and trustworthy. The tracking ability embedded within the ridesharing ecosystem and verified professional riders has won our trust.

In each street, there are hundreds of stories like that of Priya. Ashma, a potential medical student, travels 6.4 km every day from Balkumari to Putalisadk for her medical entrance exam preparation. She never gets a seat on the bus and always commutes by standing.

People barely get a seat on the bus. I consider myself lucky if I get a seat. But recently, I have started using ridesharing apps. It is far more convenient and easy to commute now," Asthma shares. "Besides, as a woman, waiting for late-evening buses at the bus stop in Kathmandu is not safe. Deep down, I always used to feel as though something terrible would happen. I feel much more secure with ridesharing. "

The landscape of personal transportation has changed drastically since the rise of rideshare services. However, with the pros, there are some dark sides as well. Anusha, 23, is a regular rideshare passenger. Unfortunately, she had some bad experiences with male riders. They would intentionally hit the brakes to make her bump into them. When she tried to point it out, they would blame the road conditions. Due to this, she always tries to pick a female rider.

Overall, the ridesharing ecosystem in Nepal seems to be supporting Nepali society, despite some negative consequences and room for improvement. They have provided an alternative to hectic public transportation. Still, they have also provided an opportunity for riders to make money at a time convenient for them.

Arjun, 25, started looking for a job right after completing his bachelor’s degree. However, he has had no luck with it. Out of frustration, he started to take up ridesharing as a job. He now earns a decent amount, too, as per his timing.

Similarly, Shyam Kumar, a retired office worker, uses his free time for ridesharing. "I get bored at home all day. Extra money is always tempting, so I ride at my leisure. Besides, I love listening to stories told by passengers. I enjoy ridesharing, "he adds.

At the turn of the millennium, ridesharing was just a concept. It is now safe to say that it has revolutionised the urban commute. The ability to call yourself a ride with the push of a button has made moving around without your motor vehicle much more feasible and, in some cases, desirable. Since the mode of service business is constantly evolving, it is best for the country, businesses, and consumers to allow ridesharing services with new reasonable standards for affirmative growth.

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