July 22, 2017

‘Ridesharing’: A new twist on an old service

Personal transportation auto purchase concept
Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Buffalo will be one of the last places in the United States to get Uber and Lyft services, after the state legislature passed legislation to allow “ridesharing” in upstate. The rules that govern the industry in New York are to be written by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Ridesharing goes by different names, but essentially it is a service that coordinates shared rides on short notice. It reminds me of standing on the shoulder of a road with my thumb out, only now it is high tech and riders have to pay the driver for the ride. It has been promoted as a way to help the environment, reduce traffic congestion and utilize empty seats in passenger cars, thus lowering fuel usage and transport costs much like carpooling. It can serve areas not covered by a public transit system and is capable of accommodating one-time travelers and commuters.

In the early 2010s, several transportation network companies introduced (advertised) themselves as ridesharing services, but in fact they dispatched commercial operators similar to a taxi service. Ridesharing first appeared on the market when San Francisco-based Sidecar was launched in 2011.

Ridesharing has been much debated, and criticized as lacking adequate regulation, insurance, licensing […]

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