Traffic and congestion are increasingly worsening in the Philippines, especially in the metropolitan areas. With this in mind, startups are trying to alleveiate the problem through different means. One such startup is Tripid Philippines. I interviewed Michael Ngo Dee, co-founder and CEO of the Ortigas-based startup, to discuss how the company intends to contribute toward a greener Philippines.

The startup’s name itself is quite revealing, in that it’s a portmanteau of “trip” and “tipid,” which is a Filipino term that refers to savings. Tripid is basically an application that lets users share their rides, thereby ensuring a safe trip and saving — and even earning — money in the process. Tripid saves both money and time, which Mike says is one of the app’s main highlights.

Tripid expands on the concept of carpooling. While carpooling is a social act in itself, this is traditionally done among friends and acquaintances. You might go to work together with your neighbors who work in the same area, so that you save on gas and fare. But what if you don’t have the convenience of having such friends? How about the ride back home if not everyone is on the same schedule?

Tripid lets car owners and commuters dynamically carpool from among available cars and riders. Drivers can make their car available for sharing. Meanwhile, other commuters can also join a ride and contribute towards fuel expenses. This is beneficial for both drivers and riders. Drivers share the fuel expense, while riders will usually end up paying a lot less than the usual taxi fare, and arrive in comfort as compared to riding the bus or MRT.

Here at Tripid, we believe that there’s a better way to travel around the city. Our open carpooling service brings together drivers and passengers going the same way — for a safer, more convenient, and more affordable every day trip.

Mike demonstrated the system to me, and here are some notable features:

  • The system uses Google Maps to determine trip origins, routes and destinations.
  • Drivers can define how much they want to charge per passenger.
  • “Trip ticket” system that confirms entry and drop-off.
  • “I’m here” feature alerts carpoolers that either the car or the passengers are at the pick-up point.
  • A rating system lets users filter prospective passengers or drivers according to reliability, timeliness, and other factors.
  • App connects with Facebook to get user profiles, including workplaces or schools, in order to have a guess at one’s usual routes.
  • App supports private groups. Users can define their organization (school, workplace), which need approval by the organization’s manager. This way, users can limit their rides and trips among their colleagues for added security.
  • A “community call” feature that alerts Tripid friends when one is in trouble — useful for when you encounter road accidents, or in the event that your ride goes awry.

Partnerships with organizations

When I told Mike I thought this would be a big hit with professionals and students, he said that Tripid was already partnering with several schools, companies and organizations so that their members, staff and students can use the app to share rides. The aim here is to encourage connected individuals to share their vehicles, to help ease congestion and to help establish social networks outside of the online world.

The team is currently working on improvements. For instance, the app currently does not process payments. These are deals done directly between driver and rider. Tripid is mostly a web app at this point, although it works on mobile browsers. The Tripid team is working on building their iOS and Android apps, and Mike says the team is validating data integrity during the mobile-to-web transfer to ensure a seamless user experience. Other trip features to be included are waypoints, multiple drop-off and pick-up points and an online payments or credit system.

Once the payment system is worked out, Tripid plans to take a commission from each deal done, which serves as their main business model.

Tripid is currently funded, although the source and details of financing are confidential at this time.

International expansion

The app is currently focused on Metro Manila, although it should theoretically work anywhere with Google Maps coverage (which is practically the whole world). As such, the Tripid team is looking for potential partners outside of the Philippines, which can help the team apply the same dynamic carpooling concept in other localities. Mike says they do not want to compare themselves with other ride sharing services abroad, but apps like Zimride and Lyft — both meant for the American market — come to mind.

Other notable transportation-related startups in the country include MRTtrackr and Commute.ph, although Tripid goes beyond public transportation by actually letting users share their private rides. If you own a car and you want to maximize each trip, this is one must-have app, along with the MMDA traffic app.

Featured image credits: Tripid