Car sharing app to save 27 million miles in unnecessary student car journeys


A pair of entrepreneurial medical students at Birmingham Medical School have launched an innovative ride sharing app, Commute: Fuel Splitter, which could save medical students more than 27 million miles per year on unnecessary car journeys and raise money to fund renewable energy schemes.

The app works by promoting ride sharing as a cost effective and environmentally friendly way for medical students to travel to and from GP and hospital placements as part of their medical training.

It allows users to calculate the fuel cost, split costs between car occupants, and keep track of travel expenses all in one app. It also provides users with information about their carbon footprint, allowing them to offset their emissions through the app for just £1 per 70 miles. Money raised funds renewable energy projects and tree-planting schemes around the world.

Daniel Chivers and Michael Trueman developed the app, whilst volunteering in Birmingham hospitals during the first wave of the COVID pandemic. They calculated that the average medical student is required to travel around 3,168 miles per year for clinical placements, most of which is travelled by car.

The pair joined the Birmingham NatWest Accelerator in February after taking part in the final of NatWest Business Builder’s 10k Challenge – a contest aimed at helping budding business leaders create their best 60-second pitch.

Commute could save 27 million road miles and cut an estimated 13,700 tonnes of Co2 emissions in its first 12 months. The app was trialled amongst Birmingham Medical School students in November 2020 and this spring will be trialled in three other locations across the UK. The app will be rolled out across all medical schools in September 2021.

Daniel said:

“Ride-sharing is already the norm amongst medical students but splitting the fuel cost becomes so complicated that drivers are disincentivised to have many passengers. By making splitting fuel costs a seamless process, we hope to reduce the number of cars travelling to and from clinical placements by 50%, reducing costs and our carbon footprints.

“Whilst medical students will be our priority over the next 12-months, we realise that Commute will be valuable to people from other walks of life including other students, sports teams, those planning road trips and eco-conscious young professionals.

“Since coming up with the idea, the NatWest team have helped us develop a business plan as we look to grow the business and find investors that we think will support our visions.”

Josh Winfield, Regional Ecosystem Manager at NatWest, said:

“Daniel and Michael’s idea for Commute has already made travel to placement easier for hundreds of students in Birmingham. For what should be a simple thing, trying to split costs for petrol and car journeys can become quite a hassle, but with Commute the whole process becomes automatic.

“In what a has been a challenging year for the NHS and medical students, being able to get to essential placements without worrying about money and logistics is a great help. As we strive to work and support more and more climate-focussed businesses, we have no doubt this app will help hundreds of people reduce their carbon footprints over the coming months.”

NatWest is committed to playing a key part in tackling climate change. As part of this, at least 25% of the spaces in the bank’s 12 UK wide entrepreneurial accelerators, which support around 1000 entrepreneurs a year, will be dedicated to supporting Climate focussed businesses.