Text T for Texxi

ride_with_hitler.jpg

The poster above demonstrates that during the years of wartime scarcity, it was considered unpatriotic – perhaps even traitorous – to waste valuable resources. Back in the day, car-sharing clubs were introduced as a way in which people could preserve precious petrol rations and, in turn, keep Hitler at bay.

Just like the blackouts, car sharing clubs went out like a light at the end of the war. Thus, sharing your car went from being something noble to something needless. Indeed, the whole notion of public transport was eventually downgraded, to the point where it was seen as something rather grubby. There is a – possibly apocryphal – quote from Margaret Thatcher, that goes, “‘a man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.”

Texxi is a new system, operating in Liverpool and elsewhere, that basically gives a new twist to car-sharing. What is does is combine three new technologies: text messaging; advanced journey algorithms and real-time data. Its also being touted as not just a cheaper form of transport, but a greener one too. Could it work? Well maybe. It depends, I suppose, on how much trust is embedded in the system at the end of the night.

It shows how climate change is at last starting to make people think twice about how we travel around our cities. But its not new to this world. You come across shared taxis in a lot in places, especially the middle east. But to catch on in the UK the idea needs something else. I’ve written before about how the internet is helping promote car-pooling schemes, but this time i can see how mobile technology can offer the promise of improved ease and efficiency, even for very short journeys.

In my backpacking days, I took advantage of shared taxis and taxibuses and Sheruts to get about Cyprus, Egypt and Israel . At the very least, they were a lot more exciting and interesting than taking the scheduled bus service where you rarely got to speak to a single soul.