The traffic gridlock is as much a part of the morning commute as the coffee in your cup holder. Solitary drivers in almost every car are clogging the asphalt arteries, where the carpool lanes are mostly reserved for those reckless enough to use it as a passing lane. Improving public transit, such as bus and rail, has been the traditional answer to the problem. However, because these systems require a large commitment of public funds they rarely receive the green light. That’s why tech firms are stepping in to attempt solutions for our swollen roadways.
Enter, carpooling. Carpooling matches drivers with passengers heading to similar destinations in order to optimize routes by decreasing the amount of trips a driver has to take. This allows more passengers to be served, pulls more drivers off the road which in turn reduces traffic congestion and reduces carbon footprint.
The strength of app-based carpooling is that it builds upon existing structures and an existing concept. The success of app-based carpooling (and long-distance carpooling) depends entirely upon the amount of people who decide to use it. The more drivers posting their trips, the more options passengers have. This translates into fewer cars on the road and less strain on local government to expand public transportation systems that are already a money pit.
Whether or not people will use a carpooling app depends on its cost-effectiveness and its convenience. When taking transit, a passenger is sacrificing independence. The tradeoff has to be that it’s simply cheaper, quicker, and less stressful. Using Uber or Lyft for ride share are convenient because they’re already on your phone and the driver comes to you when you need them. Presumably, a shared ride should be cheaper because you’re subsidizing the cost with other passengers. The problem that persists is the elephant in the room: traffic.
Living in an area that doesn’t have a developed and reliable form of public transportation means that most likely commuters will own cars, out of necessity. The result is that only those that cannot afford cars are using transit. The quality of the transit will then reflect the type amount of patrons they can attract meaning that expansion and improvement is impossible if these transit systems have to look to state and city budgets for subsidies. This means less passengers are capable of paying for higher quality transportation, outside of already owning their own. So, it seems ride share as a business model seems to depend on the success of other forms of public transit to make it a tenable program. However, some companies like Ridesurf are expanding the ride sharing concept beyond city limits.
Ridesurf specializes in long-distance carpooling. It operates sort of like a blend between an Uber or Lyft and Bumble’s BFF. It brings together people who are all heading to the same location, like a music festival, in order to cut down on cars traveling long distances. This benefits drivers who can subsidize their trip by filling their empty seats, and it benefits passengers who appreciate shedding the stress of driving. At an average price of only $25 for a 250 mile trip, its a win-win for both parties.
Where ride sharing (Uber, Lyft) only add more traffic and carbon emissions to congested cities, Ridesurf has the potential to thrive. Rideshare apps suffer from their inability to translate into a solution for less traffic and reduction of pollution. The more people use Ridesurf for a journey and have a positive experience from carpooling, the more people will change their minds about how they travel city-to-city, and to events — and see that driving alone or traveling via public transportation is an inferior option.