Real-time ridesharing

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Real-time ridesharing (also known as instant ridesharing, dynamic ridesharing, ad-hoc ridesharing, dynamic carpooling, and provided in California by Transportation Network Companies) is a service that arranges one-time shared rides on very short notice.[1] This type of carpooling generally makes use of three recent technological advances:[2]

  • GPS navigation devices to determine a driver's route and arrange the shared ride
  • Smartphones for a traveler to request a ride from wherever they happen to be
  • Social networks to establish trust and accountability between drivers and passengers

These elements are coordinated through a network service, which can instantaneously handle the driver payments and match rides using an optimization algorithm. Examples include Lyft, Uber, Sidecar and Wingz.

Real-time ridesharing is promoted as a way to better utilize the empty seats in most passenger cars, thus lowering fuel usage and transport costs. It can serve areas not covered by a public transit system and act as a transit feeder service.[3] It is also capable of serving one-time trips, not only recurrent commute trips or scheduled trips.[4]

Furthermore, it can serve to limit the volume of car traffic, thereby reducing congestion and mitigating traffic's environmental impact.[5]

One potential drawback may be economic harm to the auto industry due to sharing; however, some auto companies such as Daimler are quite supportive of real-time ridesharing research.[2] Opposition may also come from taxi companies and public transit operators.[4]

Ridesharing companies are often seen as an alternative to taxis and have been opposed by the taxi industry.[6]

Potential market[edit]

A 2010 survey at the University of California, Berkeley found 20% of respondents willing to use real-time ridesharing at least once a week; and real-time ridesharing was more popular among current drive-alone commuters (30%) than transit or non-motorized commuters.[7] The top obstacles to using real-time ridesharing were short trip lengths and the added time of ride logistics.[7]


Early real-time ridesharing projects began in the 1990s, but they faced obstacles such as the need to develop a user network and a convenient means of communication.[8] Gradually the means of arranging the ride shifted from telephone to internet, email, and smartphone; and user networks were developed around major employers and universities.[9] As of 2006, the goal of taxi-like responsiveness still generally eluded the industry; "next day" responsiveness was considered the state of the art.[10]

In the fall of 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a cease and desist letter to Lyft (along with rideshare companies Uber and Sidecar) and fined each $20,000. It also sent a cease and desist letter to Wingz who partnered with Willie Brown Jr., former Mayor of San Francisco and Speaker of the California Assembly, as the company's lawyer.[11] In 2013 an interim agreement was reached reversing those actions.[12] In September 2013, the CPUC unanimously voted to make the agreement permanent, creating a new category of service called "Transportation Network Companies" to cover both real-time and scheduled ride-sharing companies.[13]

In June 2013, Lyft, Uber and Sidecar were served with cease and desist letters by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Despite this, all three companies continue to operate and offer their services in Los Angeles.[14][15]

Two dynamic ridesharing pilots in Norway received government funds from Transnova in 2011. One pilot in Bergen had 31 passenger in private cars during one day. Thirty-nine users acted as drivers or passengers between June 30 and September 15 with four ridesharing episodes or more. The phone apps that was used was Avego Driver[16] and cell client,[17] a prototype developed for the NPRA of Norway. The other pilot is run by the company Sharepool.[18]

Some more advanced real-time ridesharing features have been proposed but not implemented. For example, longer trips might be facilitated using "multihop" matches in which passengers change cars to reach their final destination.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Amey, A., J. Attanucci, and R. Mishalani. "'Real-Time' Ridesharing – The Opportunities and Challenges of Utilizing Mobile Phone Technology to Improve Rideshare Services." TRB Annual Meeting, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Ecosummit TV – ECO11 – Young Future Mobility Leaders – Panel - ECOSUMMIT - Smart Green Economy Network and Conference
  3. ^ Ecosummit TV – ECO11 – Klaus Dibbern – Flinc – Ride Sharing - ECOSUMMIT - Smart Green Economy Network and Conference
  5. ^ S. Ma, Y. Zheng, O. Wolfson.(2013) T-Share: A Large-Scale Dynamic Taxi Ridesharing Service. IEEE International Conference on Data Engineering, 2013.
  6. ^ Brooks, Jon (7 November 2013). "Will ‘Ride Sharing’ Kill San Francisco’s Taxi Industry?". KQED. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Elizabeth Deakin, Karen Trapenberg Frick, and Kevin Shively. 2012. "Dynamic Ridesharing." Access, 40: 23-28.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Chan, Nelson and Susan Shaheen. "Ridesharing in North America: Past, Present, and Future." Transportation Research Board, 2010.
  10. ^ United States Department of Transportation. "ADVANCED PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS: THE STATE OF THE ART UPDATE 2006."
  11. ^ Tomio Geron, Forbes Staff (28 January 2013). "Tickengo's Willie Brown Wants Revenue Cap For Ride-Sharing Drivers". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  12. ^ Lawler, Ryan (31 Jan 2013). "A Day After Cutting A Deal With Lyft, California Regulator Reaches An Agreement With Uber As Well". TechCrunch. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Geron, Tomio (9 Sep 2013). "California Becomes First State To Regulate Ridesharing Services [Lyft], Sidecar, UberX". Forbes. Retrieved 23 Oct 2013. 
  14. ^ Tuttle, Brad (27 Jun 2013). "Rideshare Battle Shifts to L.A.: City Tells Uber, Lyft, SideCar to Stop Picking Up Riders". Time Magazine. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (2 Jul 2013). "Lyft expands to San Diego amid cease-and-desist order in Los Angeles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Avego Ltd
  17. ^ website
  18. ^ Sharepool website (Norwegian)

External links[edit]