Three rural communities in the mountains northwest of Madrid have launched an initiative to encourage residents to offer their neighbors a ride. Under the Yo te llevo… tú me llevas (I’ll take you… you take me) scheme, the local council that runs the villages of El Boalo, Cerceda and Matalpino, home to some 7,000 people, has installed 25 collection points next to bus stops.
“Shared journeys reduce petrol costs, emissions and they bridge the gap at certain times of the day; the bus service is good at peak times, but in the afternoons and evenings they only run every hour,” explains José Ángel Guerrero, the local council’s head of transport.
Drivers interested in taking part in the car-sharing initiative register with the local council, which checks the road-worthiness of their vehicle, and whether they have insurance and a valid license. Once approved, they are given a sticker for their windscreen indicating their involvement in the scheme.
Volunteers are also warned that they should not ask their passengers for money. “This is about solidarity and mutual support,” says Guerrero, adding: “As much as anything, we want to improve the social fabric of the community, to help us all get along better.” Would-be hitchhikers are advised to use common sense and not to get into a car if they feel uncomfortable. At the same time, the local council says that nobody is obliged to pick anybody else up.
He also adds that the scheme shouldn’t be compared to the initiatives in cities such as Madrid, where car-sharing smartphone applications are being seen as a threat to the livelihoods of taxi drivers.