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?

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Comments on “e-Hitchhiking”

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John BArtley (user link) says:

Why electronicize it?

Folks, this is an exercise for tech for it’s own sake.
The one place where ridesharing really, really works in in the ‘burbs of DC, and it’s calle the ‘Slug Line’. Folks who want to avoid the Metro hang out in parking lots, and group themselves by destination. Then, drivers cruise by, and pick up enough folks to make the 3 passengers per vehicle commuter lane requirement.
By comparison, every web-based, SMS-based, whatever-based system I’ve seen has been terribly lame.
Please, show me a system which *works* for car shares, and is not just a full-employment provision for transportation public ‘servants’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Psycho!

But a lot of people do just that here in the Bay Area. People wait in lines to get into a car going over the Bay Brdige into downtown San Francisco and there are several designated lines of people waiting for cars going to specific East Bay suburbs. Tons of people jump into strangers’ cars every business day, just like in DC and, surely, lots of other places.

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