When I first came to US for my work, I was living on the Eastside (of Lake Washington). Soon after my arrival I realized that owning a car is almost a necessity there (as mentioned in this blog-post by Liat), and so I got one. At the end of my tenure in U.S., I (sold the car and) went back to India for a year or so before coming back to Grad School. When I came back as a student, I did not buy a car primarily for financial reasons and thus have come to rely on UPASS.
Now dependent on public transportation, when I first learned about OneBusAway, I was delighted (definitely a “Delight” that “Carbon Efficient City” speaks of), and now it has come to be an integral part of our transit system/solution. Every now and then, when I wait for the much-delayed bus, esp. at Montlake or Overlake Freeway Station (even though OneBusAway says “NOW”, or even “-2” at times) and I see single-occupied vehicles whizzing past me I used to think “beyond hitch-hiking, if only there were a easier way to match the demand (of me needing a ride) and supply (vacant seats in SOVs that could potentially be going close to my destination, or my next transfer point), wouldn’t that be awesome – solving (my) transportation need and enabling the SOV driver to use HOV lane”. As an MBA student’s wont, I tried to think through this as a business opportunity and what it would take to execute on this solution. I saw that “building the trust” part between unknown persons as a big roadblock to such a solution.
But wait, looks like someone else has made it happen! I was thrilled to find that out when I came across a news article on SideCar – a ride app that lets strangers catch paid rides from other strangers. Voila! The problem seems to have been tackled – Delightful indeed! So, how does it work? It starts with the rider using the app and requesting a ride; and the app does the matching. Started out in San Francisco it has come to Seattle (100,000 matched rides so far) and now entering Boston. A testimony from one of the (Seattle) users claims SideCar as “the most cost efficient method that is timely”. Sounds great! I’m looking forward to using this service as well as the other “hot” city transportation solution, Car2Go in near future. Hope you do as well!