TDM TAKEAWAYUse tech to build demand for carpool networks, as a way to alleviate traffic congestion and save commuters money.
Commuters who regularly endure traffic jams and long travel times to work sometimes consider carpooling as an alternative, but it’s not always simple to find people to share a ride.
A new app called Ride aims to change all that.
Launched in April, Ride hopes to connect coworkers who have similar routes to work – reducing the number of cars on the road, and saving users money at the same time.
The app has a fairly simple interface:
- Type in your business address and your home address.
- Mark if you’d like to be a rider or driver, and the app begins to search for fellow users who have similar commutes, maybe even who work at the same company.
- Specify whether you want to be a rider or driver. All riders split the total cost of the commute, including fuel and tolls, with 10 percent going to Ride. The cost is calculated in advance based on the length of the commute and the number of riders who will be traveling. Everything is calculated automatically and paid via Ride’s online payment system.
A staggering 90 percent of Americans commute to work by car. Ride CEO Ann Fandozi said the concept for her company began 30 years ago with vanpooling. VPSI, Inc., was a pioneer company in providing a large van to volunteer drivers who would then transport themselves and other individuals to work from a central gathering point. That business has been renamed and is thriving as vRide, and Ride is a stand-alone spin-off of vRide.
“Ride was much more expansive [with the] goal of redesigning the commute,” especially for people who drive 30 minutes or longer to work, Fandozi said.
The savings increases as the number of riders per car increases. When signing up for the app, an estimate is generated of annual savings, which can total into the thousands. One testimonial on Ride’s website notes, “I am able to save at least $200+ in my monthly commute and I don’t have to depend on my 13-year-old minivan.”
To maximize rider saving and traffic reduction, Ride will provide a free three-row van or sport utility vehicle to drivers who can drive more than four people to and from their place of business, or near it, on a regular basis. Those drivers can even use the car on the weekends, with all costs covered by Ride.
“The key is to keep adding people to the ride,” Fandozi said.
Those drivers will have to go through an extensive record check, and their previous carpool riders will be polled on the safety and suitability of their driving, she said.
Drivers are required to provide a valid driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. More thorough checks aren’t needed, Fandozi explained, because all of the riders work and live in similar areas. While this might be the first time they’ve carpooled, riders have things in common and often aren’t complete strangers, she said, adding that drivers are “not making money. They’re simply offsetting the cost of driving to work.”
Fandozi said that users will typically be riding to work with the same group of people until more users start to be added. Once demand is sufficient, it’s possible to more liberally add in casual riders that would use the service once a week or less.
Informal carpool networks exist across the U.S., including Washington D.C.’s SlugLines.com, which arranges informal rides from pre-selected locations. According to Fandozi, these existing networks have already begun reaching out to potentially use the Ride app to help arrange the free service they already provide.
Photo by Anders Porter