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New SideCar app helps facilitate ride shares

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2012

SideCar, a new San Francisco-based company, is helping encourage ride shares with a new app that matches drivers with nearby passengers in need of a ride. The app works by allowing users to indicate their current location as well as where they’re trying to go, and matching them up with a pre-screened set of nearby drivers willing to help get them to their destination.

Hitching a ride is absolutely free, but passengers benefitting from the goodwill of others are encouraged to compensate the driver by sending a payment from within the app. SideCar will show passengers (and drivers) the suggested fare for a particular route, and allow drivers to rate passengers so other users can determine whether they want to offer a person future rides.

Since payment is strictly voluntary, the program adheres to California’s ride-sharing regulations. And, because the suggested donation is often much cheaper than a taxi, would-be-passengers should be coming out way ahead even if they opt to tip their driver generously.

According to Blake Wirht, SideCar’s director of marketing, drivers span a wide range of ages and professions. In an article from SF Examiner, Wirht went on to explain, “It’s fascinating the people you meet, and a lot of people are drawn to it for that reason. But there are a lot of people that drive for SideCar to offset their costs of vehicle ownership.”

It’s nice to see SideCar finding a way to promote cost-efficient ride-shares and match up total strangers for the benefit of both parties. Ideally, this type of program should be able to find a niche alongside the growing number of rideshare and car sharing programs in Northern California. As much as we actively campaign for cycling, walking, and mass transit, it’s encouraging to see an application that has the potential to make the massive number of Bay Area car trips just a little bit more efficient.

Since the app was just launched at the end of June, it’s way too early to tell whether enough potential drivers will be using SideCar to make it a viable alternative to seeking out a taxi. Regardless, it’s an interesting concept, and one that can hopefully generate a bit of traction over the coming months.

Photo via Side.cr


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