Call it hitchhiking, 21st century style.
SideCar, a San Francisco startup, has launched its rideshare app nationwide, after successful beta testing in the company’s hometown.
The app connects drivers who have a car with others looking for transportation options other than hired cars, taxis or mass transit.
“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 company said its rideshare community is growing and it has already facilitated 10,000 rides across San Francisco since it launched in February.
Actually, comparing SideCar to a guy with a knapsack and a thumb along the side of the road isn’t really fair. Drivers must apply at www.side.cr/drive to become part of the community. Members of the community can rate others and they can even pay for the ride on the app.
Besides the obvious benefits of reducing energy consumption and saving money, SideCar points out there is a social aspect as well. Users of the service can meet new people in the community.
“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 than 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.”
Here’s 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.
The app also allows users 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 the 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 their participation in the SideCar 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.
The mobile application is available free for download for passengers via the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users.
SideCar was founded in January 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 since that 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 and First Step Fund.