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The Haute Gironde region will try dynamic carpooling coupled with public transport

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par Elsa Sidawy | 10.21.11

The territory of the Upper Gironde will experiment from now until the end of November with a new real-time ridesharing service to meet the objectives of its Climate Plan and promote intermodality. A difficult task for a predominantly rural area split into 65 municipalities where 90% of trips under 5 km are made by car and public transport is rarely used.

Geared towards commuting
This report prompted the Aquitaine Regional Council and the Joint public/private Union of the Upper Gironde to take steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their citizens. Since last year, the start-up Senda, who is driving the project, has partnered with four other companies, around a consortium to deploy a dynamic ridesharing service aimed at some 82,000 inhabitants of this territory on the outskirts of greater Bordeaux. Code name? Hirondo, “in reference to the swallow, a world traveler,” says Virginie Robin, manager of the Agenda 21 and the Climate Plan of the union. The purpose of this organization is to help streamline the practice of carpooling, not only commuting “between home and work“, which represent the bulk of travel, but also “encourage the practice during internal displacement and east/west trips across the territory, thus shorter journeys.


A tool based on the use of conventional phones
This joint public/private effort, also very involved in the development of ICT, wished to propose a simple and accessible solution. Forget the hyper sophisticated smartphone application still used by just a small margin of the population. The technology developed will consist of a mobility service “available on all types of phones,” through an interactive voice interface and SMS. The user must first register on the online platform of Hirondo before interacting with other users. Drivers will post on the platform routes for which they are willing to take passengers. Passengers wishing to use the service can send an SMS or call the voice service to get information regarding potential carpools in their proximity. The only constraint: users must go to previously identified sites such as public car parks and bus stops to help ease logistics. For users anxious about securing a driver for a return trip, but also to encourage a modal shift to public transport, Hirondo will also include access to information on bus schedules and regional trains.

300 users for a trial period of three months
Next step? “Mobilizing a panel of users in the territory, ideally 300 people,” by launching a communication campaign and information meetings to present the local device. The pilot should then be launched in late November for a period of two to three months. Although the service will be free initially, Senda devised as part of a future deployment plan, a secure online payment system. The system will calculate a flat rate based on the number of miles traveled. “Before the trip, the transport funds will be debited from the account of the passenger and credited to the account of the driver.
The biggest uncertainty of the project? “We may have more drivers than passengers: people who accept the principle of carpooling but want to keep their grip on the wheel,” said Virginie Robin. The first users who agree to keep their eyes off the road in late November, will have the opportunity to observe the migration of swallows in the Aquitaine sky.

The five companies involved in the Hirondo project:

  • Senda: owner of the project and technology provider of Hirondo
  • Ecolutis to accompany the communities through the implementation of carpooling
  • Websiteburo: developing the Internet platform of the tool Hirondo
  • Ersya (Ergonomics of Advanced Systems) working on the acceptability of this innovative service
  • Conversationnel communication agency: social media primarily


Total budget: EUR 199 000

  • 60% of the pilot operation is funded by the Aquitaine Regional Council (grant 119,000 euros to the consortium members)
  • the remaining 40% are financed by equity of companies in the consortium

Photos credits: Photo « So », Sud Ouest / Syndicat mixte du Pays de la Haute Gironde

To learn more about the innovation presented in this article, contact us at

Translated by Genny Cortinovis

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