Today Bostonians have a new, cheap ride at their fingertips, but there’s a catch – they have to ditch that little voice that warns against getting into cars with strangers.
SideCar, a free ride sharing app that lets users grab a ride with other drivers in the area, has just launched in Boston, a city known for its transportation troubles.
Users tell the app where they want to be picked up and dropped off, then they’re are connected with a willing driver. The rider receives a suggested donation amount to offset the cost of the lift.
While the idea of getting into a car with a stranger may startle some, co-founder Nick Allen said there have been no reports of sketchy or violent activity since the company launched in San Francisco last June.
“There is the mental hurdle of getting into a stranger’s car, but the safety precautions that we take are as vigorous as most taxi companies. Every single ride is GPS tracked, and we do full background checks on drivers,” Allen said.
Until now, the app has been available in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Austin. According to Allen, tens of thousands of users have hailed over 100,000 rides.
We want to launch in every city where we think this will be useful because, Allen said, transportation is a universal issue that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation in a few decades.
"The response has been overwhelming. (SideCar) is good for the environment and the community, and puts money in people's pockets who need it. Most drivers use it to offset the cost of gas or car payments and insurance. The donations go through the app, it's all cashless. Twenty percent goes to (SideCar) and the driver gets the rest," Allen said.
Since the ride is donation based - i.e. riders pay what they can - there is a question over whether drivers can always expect to be paid.
Allen said that in the "rare cases" when a rider stiffs a driver, the driver does not get compensation from the company. But "99 percent of the time" that does not happen.
“It’s like getting a ride from a friend. You sit in the front seat and have 10- or 15-minute conversations with people. There is a sense of community.”
The app is available at www.side.cr.