Smartphone apps are matching drivers and passengers with collaborative transportation programs.  Many people are fed up with some of the more traditional forms of urban transportation such as taxis and buses and are turning toward sharing the trip with complete strangers.  Apps like Lyft and SideCar are connecting riders and passengers who want to share a trip, but want to avoid the conventional modes of travel.  Simply tap for a ride and the GPS can locate the closest vehicle and give you a quick ETA.

Smartphone Apps for Ride Sharing Programs

 How it Works

The idea is simple.  The software connects potential passengers who want to go to a particular location with drivers who are in the area and traveling to that destination.  The passengers will then pay for the ride and the drivers pick up some extra cash for providing the transportation.

The Apps

Lyft has developed out of San Francisco’s financial district and is currently only available in that area. The Lyft cars are distinguishable by a large, fuzzy, pink mustache attached to the grill. To attempt to insure the safety of the passengers, the company does a background check and personality checks of the drivers before they can use the application.

SideCar is another peer-to-peer car pooling service whose fees are completely “donation” based.  This is a cashless service in which passengers can pay via Smartphones.

Tickengo may be the largest service with hundreds of drivers available in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago, LA, Houston, Seattle, and Austin.

Uber is a higher-end transportation service that offers rides in luxury cars driven by professional drivers. The service is on demand at a price that is about $20 to $30 higher than a taxi, but is still within an affordable range.  They are based out of San Francisco, but also have service available in Chicago, the Twin Cities, and New York.

The Benefits

Car pooling, especially in urban areas, is eco-friendly, quicker and less expensive than traditional means of travel.  With many available drivers in the area, pick-up and travel time is usually fast and friendly.  Drivers who participate in these program make quick easy money for little time and effort.

The Repercussion

There has been a recent outcry from the taxi drivers unions over the potential loss of business and possible illegality of these programs.   Drivers in the services do not have taxi/chauffer or business licenses.  After citing Lyft and Uber with $20,000 fines, state supervisory bodies are re-examining California’s laws regarding charter-party carriers.

How do you feel about being driven to your destination by a non chauffer licensed stranger, and would the lesser price be worth it?

[Image via la.streetsblog]