Lebanon's students go Bbeep for rideshares

Published January 31st, 2016 - 02:13 GMT

Not having your own car can be frustrating, but a new carpooling app that is gaining ground with Lebanon’s students is trying to make that a thing of the past. Bbeepp offers up a technological solution to the logistical issue of organizing rides.

The new phone app, developed by Lebanese engineer Elie Awwad, “matches” users living in the same geographical area so that they can organize ride-shares.

The app is a new project by the campaign Lawein Ray7in (where are we going) which was founded with the aim of finding solutions to Lebanon’s crowded roads by reducing traffic.

“There have been several attempts in the past to launch carpooling initiatives in Lebanon,” Awwad told The Daily Star. “So while the concept is not new, we feel that the widespread usage of smartphones makes for a more favorable environment for such initiatives today.”

New users are required to sign in using a Facebook account and are then allowed to browse for a ride. When you pick a route, if the other user accepts, then the two of you are matched and you can chat to coordinate your lift.

Bbeepp makes sure the personal information you provide is secure, it doesn’t post on your Facebook wall and only allows you to sign up with a valid “.edu” university email to limit the service to students. It can be downloaded from Google Play.

The benefit of the app is that you can find new people who live in your area, that are doing the same route to school. It also takes away a lot of the prearrangement.

Lawein Ray7in was founded in 2013 as a national campaign for an effective mass-public transportation system. “Over 80 percent of rides that take place in Lebanon happen in private vehicles. Also, the vast majority of them are single occupancy trips, meaning the driver is alone in their car,” Awwad said.

Bbeepp is taking a small step to reduce the number of cars on the road by getting people to share lifts and is now available to all students using android phones – an iPhone version of the app is in development.

Bbeepp is limited to a number of universities but in the future will expand out to more campuses, then to small companies.

“The biggest advantage of carpooling is probably maintaining one’s mental sanity and lower stress levels,” Awwad said. “Other important advantages are lower costs of commutes and reduction in pollution. Lebanon has poor air quality and it is our moral obligation as citizens to do our part.”

In order to gauge the popularity of the new app among students, The Daily Star surveyed 100 random students from a number of universities. Although 86 percent said they hadn’t heard of the app, 73 percent said they would be up for trying it.

Students in most universities find difficulties commuting between school and home, for various reasons. Many of the students said that the biggest problems were heavy traffic, the price of gasoline for those driving and the lack of reliable public transport in many areas for those without a car.

“I do not know anyone willing to share their car [at the moment],” said Rawane Shamseddine, a student in the Lebanese University. “Bbeepp can be a great opportunity for students willing to share a lift and for looking for one too.”

“Although I believe it is the job of the government to provide a better public transportation system, Bbeepp can be an effective solution that starts with the citizens themselves,” she added.

By Dana Abed

 


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