A Review of Various Ridesharing Websites
A quick Google search of “carpool websites” yields a plethora of sites dedicated to linking potential ridesharers. While some of these sites have established their own unique niches, other sites’ capabilities overlap quite a bit. Combing through and testing out a couple of them, I’ve examined the latest in online ride-matching technology. Here’s my rough analysis of a few of the many carpool websites out there:
Zimride.com – Zimride occupies a unique place in the world of carpool. It was the first rideshare site to utilize Facebook, and it’s gained quite a bit of popularity on college campuses (I wasn’t able to find too many Zimride users on the Brown Facebook network, but that may be due to an already well-established transportation system on campus). With a tidy user-friendly interface (always a plus in my book) and neat appearance, Zimride has expanded rapidly since its founding last year. The start-up also recently established a partnership with car-sharing company Zipcar, which allows Zipsters (Zipcar members) to easily find Zipcar carpool matches online. The site’s only been up for a year, but it’s expanding rapidly. Pretty neat stuff, in my opinion.
eRideshare.com – According to Yahoo and Google, eRideshare is the most popular national carpool connector out there. The site has been around since 1999, and works pretty simply: you sign up to post your regular commute or your one-time long-distance travel and eRideshare automatically provides a listing of potential ridesharers who travel a similar route. eRideShare’s layout isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing and the user interface is a bit difficult to use, but it certainly has a large number of users, including imports from craigslist. Its option for “employers, schools, events, clubs etc.” also proves handy for large groups hoping to improve their carpooling system.
MyCasualCarpool.com – MyCasualCarpool relies on a method of carpooling known as “slugging,” in which carpoolers agree on a local parking lot where they meet for their daily commute. Drivers/riders will meet up at this area (often a church, school, or other local lot that gives the commuters permission) to carpool to their destination. What’s in it for the driver? Mainly, use of the HOV lane in commuting. While the driver isn’t technically supposed to charge his passengers, often benevolent ridesharers will make “donations.”
GoLoco – The brainchild of Robin Chase (founder of Zipcar), Goloco allows users to post “trips” and specify which goLoco users (friends, colleagues, neighbors) are able to see them. One unique feature of the site is an option by which carpoolers can share the costs of the trip.
NuRide – NuRide takes an incentive-based approach to carpool. In addition to having access to a ridesharing network, users can log their eco-friendly trips to earn points, which can be later used to purchase rewards (restaraunt coupons, retailer discounts, show tickets, and the like). There are a number of memberships restrictions—including being over 18—but I like the idea (though I still think carpooling is often its own reward).
RideshareOptimizer – A relatively new site, RideshareOptimizer prides itself in its ability to quickly match users with the most logical carpool group. Like Zimride’s, the site’s matching system is route-based, rather than based only on start and stop locations.
Well, there we have it. A few of the many ridesharing site on the Web. Turns out, there’s a ton more out there, so let me know if you think a specific one deserves special attention.
With such a multitude of carpool sites, here’s what worries me: it seems like in order to find the optimal ride, one must often log in to five different carpooling sites. Ideally, I think we should have one website that uses the best ridematching technology and user interface out there. These sites are really only effective once they amass a large number of users.