One of the drawbacks of living in a city that is big, but not really world class is that we are often one of the last big cities to get something.
Case in point, social ride sharing.
What is social ride sharing? At face value it is similar to a taxi service. There is a person scheduled to provide rides and a person desires a ride and requests service. The key difference is that the ride sharing drivers are usually only part-time drivers and the platform usually relies completely on smart phone apps instead of dispatchers. So the driver and passenger both have an app for a particular service. When that person needs a ride they request a ride through the app which determines the GPS location and finds a driver close-by. At the end of a ride the passenger pays the driver (often electronically) and may or may not rate the driver.
The services out there are:
Lyft: Boston, Chicago, DC, LA San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and adding more locations…including Charlotte
Uber: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hamptons, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis, New York City, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Providence, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington D.C. as well as locations throughout the world.
Sidecar: Boston, Chicago, DC, LA, San Francisco, Seattle
There is also Craigslist if you schedule your rides, but for the on-demand world pushing a button in an app makes more sense to me. Maybe there are people who troll Craigslist for pick ups, but like many other services on Craigslist I think I’ll pass on that.
The technology is not without issues. Many cities have laws about who is allowed to pickup a fare at an airport and these services are not on any airport’s list unless you count the list of who to cite. Drivers in SF and LA have run into issues at the airport and around town. It probably doesn’t help that Lyft drivers have the signature pink mustache to help identify the cars.
So even though Uber has a broader footprint (and is in Indianapolis!), Lyft is the one starting up operations in Charlotte. When? I’m not sure yet, but I am in the process to become a driver. I’ve wanted to play tour guide for a while and now I may be able to do that (if that’s what the person wants!) How Indianapolis, with a Metro size of 1.76 million got something before Charlotte with a Metro of 2.29 million is beyond me, but better late than never!
I just may try this service out next time I’m in one of the cities and if any of you come to Charlotte you just may get picked up by me.