There’s a whole new class of app these days centered around lending out cars, bikes, and even homes via iPhone apps like AirBnB, Relay Rides, Getaround, and others. They allow people looking for a short term rental car or living space to connect with other people who have spare space or vehicles and pay a fair yet small fee for doing so. It seems like a good idea, on the surface.
A new app, called SideCar Passenger, takes it up a notch. The app not only connects you with a spare car, but with a spare driver as well. Think of it as peer-to-peer taxi cab and you’ll be close. Users download SideCar, register and account, and then either search for rides or offer their own services up.
Does this strike anyone else as potentially creepy?
The service is simple, and a reaction to the fact that many places have poor or limited public transportation. The rise of car rental via iPhone apps proves that there is a market for this.
Apparently, when users book a ride through the SideCar app, the app will show the average amount of money that other users have paid for similar trips. When arriving at the destination, the app will allow users to choose that amount, more, or less. Theoretically, they could choose to jsut get out fo the car, as well. In the 10,000 rides during its four-month private beta, SideCar CEO Sunil Paul told TechCrunch that “the vast majority of people do pay something.” SideCar takes a 20% portion of that “fare.”
However, getting into a car with a stranger who may or may not be who they say they are in the registration process via SideCar is not something I’d do, personally. Well, I might, but I sure wouldn’t take my kids or parents along.
TechCrunch argues that cab drivers are also complete strangers, but there’s a certain amount of legitimacy (and licensing!) that a cab connected to a taxi company has.
SideCar is only available in San Francisco for now, but plans to expand soon, of course. Let’s just hope that no one gets hurt in these first heady days of success, or at all as a result of this service, ever.