from the need-a-ride? dept
Over at Future Now, there's a short post about an experimental real-time carpooling system here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The idea is that with various carpool lanes, carpool parking spots and free tolls for carpoolers, it makes more sense to set up carpools -- but not everyone knows people to carpool with, and a single carpool set-up is problematic when schedules diverge. So, with this system, called Ride Now, a user can use a website or a mobile phone to match up carpoolers and carpoolees in real time. In theory, this could be much more efficient than traditional carpooling, where a single schedule has to work for everyone involved. In practice... it raises a lot of questions. As far as I can tell, it's basically a slightly more sophisticated hitchhiking system, which brings up the same problems hitchhiking has. You really don't know anything about who you're picking up or who's driving you. There's a reason parents teach their kids not to randomly jump into cars with people they don't know. There is also the problem of usage. This system doesn't work well if no one uses it. If someone signs up and doesn't get a ride (or a passenger) how likely are they to sign up again?