How many ride shares does it take to emerge from beta testing? If you're the San Francisco-based company SideCar, then it's somewhere north of 10,000.

That's how many rides around the Bay Area that SideCar has helped organize since kicking off in the middle of February. The peer-to-peer car sharing service officially launched this week, and it remains to be seen how it will fit into the long history of similar services that have launched in the past, including Zimride, Ride Remedy, RoadSharing, Carticipate and others. Despite all this, SideCar's CEO, Sunil Paul, calls SideCar the, "first ever crowd-sourced transportation network." Whatever it is, it's got potential.

The idea behind these P2P ride- and car-sharing groups is to maximize the utility of our vehicles. As plug-in vehicle advocates often say when talking about finding time to charge a car, the average vehicle sits still most of its life. SideCar wants to make the trips you do take all the more energy efficient – and possibly financially rewarding – by taking along someone who's headed where you're going. It's similar to the informal slugging that takes place in some cities (like Washington, D.C.). SideCar just does it with your smart phone instead of parking lots and Metro stations. Drivers need to sign up at the SideCar website and then riders use the site or the mobile apps to request pick-up and drop-off locations. Drivers then look the requests over and arrange a ride. When the trip is done, the rider may pay for the ride by making "a monetary contribution to the driver." This can be the average payment for the route (as calculated by the app) or another amount and is all done through the SideCar apps. Any readers try this yet?
Show full PR text
SIDECAR CONNECTS DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS ONE RIDE AT A TIME

More Than 10,000 Rides Shared in Under Four Months

SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2012) – SideCar (Side.cr), the first on-demand rideshare community, launched today after successful beta testing in San Francisco. SideCar has been operating in beta since mid-February, and has already facilitated 10,000 rides across the city of San Francisco. SideCar is a new peer-to-peer transportation community that provides members a new option for personal transportation. The SideCar app connects everyday drivers who have a car with others in the community looking for transportation options beyond hired cars, taxis or mass transit. The mobile application is available free for download for passengers via the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users. Drivers can apply to be part of the community at www.side.cr/drive.

"SideCar is more than just the easiest way to get around the city. We have created a platform for the first ever crowd-sourced transportation network," said Sunil Paul, CEO, SideCar. "With SideCar we can help reduce urban congestion, fight climate change and bring back a sense of community and connection to our cities. It's an instant, cost effective, environmentally conscious and fun option for getting from place to place. And with the traction we're seeing, people love it."

The community is growing quickly and SideCar is on the lookout for more drivers to share rides with people in the city. Drivers can cover the cost of vehicle ownership, maintenance and gas, all while meeting new people in their local area.

"I love SideCar. I started out driving to cover the cost of my car but now I just love meeting all the interesting people this city has to offer. I often see the same people and I'm getting to know them. It's more fun that you can imagine at first," said Eric Janson, who drives with the SideCar app. "The other great thing is I can login to the app whenever it suits me, so it's completely flexible for my schedule."

How it Works:

Riders place a request to rideshare by setting a pick-up and drop off location via the app. Once the request is confirmed, riders can view the driver approaching in real-time and see the driver's estimated time of arrival. If they choose, riders have the option to share their ETA with family and friends and rate their experience following the rideshare. Riders may also use app to make a monetary contribution to the driver. The application aggregates the current community average donations to offer passengers an easy way to decide how much to donate for their ride. No cash or other form of payment outside of the app is accepted and it is up to riders' discretion whether they make a contribution to their driver for the ride.

Drivers login to the app when they are available to offer a ride and then receive an alert when a rider submits a rideshare request. Drivers can accept the rider's request via the app and call them to let them know they are on their way. Drivers also have opportunity to rate their experience with the rider at the conclusion of the ride. Drivers are frequently able to cover the cost of the maintenance and operation of their vehicle as a result of theirparticipation in the SideCar community.

To enhance safety for drivers and passengers and foster trust within the community, SideCar screens all community members who are interested in driving. Screening includes a background check, driver's license verification, proof of insurance and an interview. Additionally, the opportunity for both drivers and riders to rate their experiences helps to establish community safety and trust. Drivers or riders who receive negative ratings are flagged to SideCar and an investigation is conducted to ensure that any potential issue is addressed with minimal impact to the community.

About SideCar

SideCar was founded in January 2012 by Sunil Paul, Jahan Khanna, and Adrian Fortino. SideCar began beta testing in February 2012 and has facilitated more than ten thousand rides within San Francisco sincethat time. The company has received seed funding from notable investors including Spring Ventures, where Sunil Paul is a partner, Huron River Ventures, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, First Step Fund, Jeff Clarke, Lisa Gansky, Robert Goldberg, Jared Kopf, Konstantin Othmer, Mark Pincus, Martin Roscheisen, Josh Silverman, Thomas Varghese.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      Rob Sweney
      • 5 Hours Ago
      I LOVE SIDECAR. Roommate and I have been using it heavily since the early days and it works fantastically well. I can't speak for other cities, but San Francisco's taxi supply is horribly matched to the daily cycle of demand - I have probably given up and walked home across the city more often then I've found a cab to get back late at night. Not only does the Sidecar app eliminate the indefinite wait by booking a vehicle and letting you track it; the service can also match the demand cycle perfectly with their fleet of volunteers (who don't mind working small/sporadic shifts). The result is a much higher utilization rate for the cars and much more reliable service for the passengers, at lower rates than the cab companies. The other thing I really love about the service is the drivers; they are just normal local people with day jobs, happy to help and make some extra cash on the side. So instead of the usual grumpy cab driver who says 2 words (or is on his bluetooth the entire time), you get to meet an interesting and local! They have all been extremely friendly, some have cool cars (the burnouts in a matte black Charger were great!), and one girl even had chocolates sitting in the cupholders for her guests. What's the last time you saw a cabbie do that?? An interesting phenomenon to watch has been the suggested payment for rides - SideCar shows you the average tip for similar trips and suggests that as a starting point when you go to donate. But people still feel compelled to "tip" more for exemplary service... as a result the suggested fares have gone up more than 50% since I started, and a lot of them are now the same as a cab fare would be. I've been donating below the averages to try and drive the posted prices down, and the drivers have told me they prefer the prices stay low to get more people using the service. Hopefully SideCar will adjust their fare recommendation to help with this. Sidecar is hoping to skirt the regulations with completely voluntary service (volunteer drivers, donations for rides), but if they get big enough I'm sure they are lawyering up for the attacks sure to come... hope they survive.
      • 5 Hours Ago
      The best company in the ridesharing space is Tickengo. Unlike others cited in this article, it never hired any drivers. It's truly peer-to-peer.
      ArielW
      • 5 Hours Ago
      sidecar forgot one big thing if someone pays you for giving them a ride in your car. if you get into a car accident your car insurance company will not need to cover the other person in the car.you cannot legally charge a fee for transporting people without a license to do so.
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @ArielW
        Actually, they have an add-on policy that goes on top of your normal insurance. But it is only in effect when the driver is doing an active SideCar job. Check it out for yourself.
        Rob Sweney
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @ArielW
        Pretty sure this is part of the reason why all of the money exchanged is "voluntary." I bet they've been very careful to understand the law around this.
      • 5 Hours Ago
      ArielW is surely correct. But on top of that, were this to really catch on, cities would shut it down. The heavily regulate cars for hire and would not tolerate material skirting of their regulation. We're not really a free country anymore, and this is just one example.
      Exooc news
      • 5 Hours Ago
      I Did mobile application for cabs (sendmetaxi.com ) I saw similar startups ( like CitySmartGo) but most of them are out of touch of local market and most of them are coping with problems of in app payments (30% google charging is too much).... and critical mass of people using it for app so I see it as clever move to merge car sharing, hitchhiking, personal taxi into one application if they dont make it too complicated. However Idea looks always nice... its these small things on the way (devil is in details) which matters and it will depend if company will listen to them.