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The problem: climate-busting road traffic matched with empty cars

It is clear that Germany will miss its climate target for 2020 by a wide margin. Road traffic is one of the main reasons for this failure. Since 1990, we have been able to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions nearly everywhere, with the exception of traffic. Cars today use slightly less fuel than they used to, but cars are used a lot more.

On average, 1.5 persons share a ride in a car; all other seats remain empty. Roads, on the other hand, are full. Nine times out of ten, whenever a car is going in one direction - practically empty - another car is needlessly going in the same direction (likewise practically empty).

Passenger cars emit nearly 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in Germany alone. This is roughly the gap that needs to be closed in order to achieve the climate target for 2020. In a sense, we will be missing our climate target because we have a habit of carting around empty seats.

Further information on carbon dioxide

The solution: an app

Our plan is to take the many near-empty cars and replace them with a few full cars. We want to turn the ubiquitous flood of cars into a highly efficient regular bus service. One could also say that we want people to hitch a ride with a digital aid. Digital hitchhiking works like the offline sort, only it's more convenient and safer, with the passengers contributing to the costs automatically.

Take this example:

Michael wants to go to town to do some shopping. Instead of getting in his car, he tells his mobile phone where he wants to go. His mobile phone then tells him that a car will pick him up in 5 minutes.
Just as Michael is getting ready, Catherine is driving along the route that goes past Michael's house. She has fixed her mobile phone to her windshield, and is using it like a normal navigation system. There is a slight difference, however: the system now tells her to stop and pick up Michael, whom the app has registered as a reliable member.
Michael rides along with her to the next junction, where both need to take a different route. Michael transfers to another car that takes him to the supermarket; again, this is facilitated by the app. A digital payment system in the background will transfer Michael's share of the travel costs to Catherine.
The whole process is fully automated, without any organizational effort being required. A potential traveler just has to tell their mobile phone where they want to go. Michael doesn't need to own a car, and Catherine is able to save money.

Further information on the planned app

How to achieve critical mass?

This idea, often called real-time or dynamic ridesharing, has been around for quite some time. Repeated attempts have been made to get the idea off the ground (except for the passenger transfer bit), but each attempt has failed to reach critical mass.

Let us assume that Sarah is the first person to install the app. She will not find any rides on offer and will delete the app because it is useless to her.

The system will only be attractive, and pull in more people, once the number of members reaches critical mass.

The idea may be good, but no company has yet managed to reach critical mass.

United we ride. Get on board.

Wifaz is a citizens' movement. By joining together as individuals, we can achieve what no company has yet managed. We are looking for a large number of committed people to spread the idea. We can pay for the app together, spread the idea together, and reach all decisions together.
We don't need investors; we'll fund the initial investment with the help of donors. The platform will be operated in the public interest, i.e., operations will exclusively be carried out for the common good. Commissions will be priced moderately. Should there be any profits, these will not be distributed to private individuals but will rather be donated to charities, or they will be invested in other future-oriented projects.

If you want to take part, this is how you do it:

  • formally declare your intention of taking part as a driver and/or passenger;

  • donate a small sum towards the development of the app;

  • tell other people about the idea.

Of course we can always do with more help, but these three things are critical to our success, and they are easily done. How about doing them today?

Let's be critical mass together.

Take part!

Political stuff

Whose mobility is it anyway?

This is what the transport system will look like in 20 years' time:
Self-driving electric vehicles, hailed by mobile phone or something similar, and connected to the public transport system, will take passengers from A to B with ease.

But who will own the system? Who will benefit from this billion-euro market?

Platform monopolies

Monopolies have emerged in a variety of digital markets in the past, for example in social media, auction services, the sale of goods, etc. In each market, all market participants are forced to use a specific dominant platform. Sadly, these platforms are all operated on a private and for-profit basis. The result: fat profits for wealthy private investors; opaque power over large amounts of data; and users' lack of privacy.

The ride hailing market is also developing into a monopoly market. People will always choose the largest broker, because all they want is to get to their destination. In the foreseeable future, there will therefore only be one ridesharing broker. But if we are able to establish our ridesharing system quickly, we can play a major role in this market.

Power to the people

The market for ridesharing is still developing. Our aim is to achieve a monopoly position in this market; a monopolistic market is an inevitable outcome anyway. But we want to operate this monopoly in the public interest. The following matters are of particular importance to us:

  • We want the principle of fairness to apply to the market for mobility.

  • Any profits the platform makes shall be used for the common good.

  • We want to maintain a transparent platform and stick to personal-data protection rules instead of having business secrets and see-through users.

  • The platform is to be operated along democratic lines.

We believe that all major digital platforms should meet these requirements. We hope that a successful role model will set an example. The above principles could then be extended to cover other markets.

Further information on the mobility market of the future