Lyft, Uber and Sidecar launch real carpooling apps to discourage car ownership

August 6, 2014

Lyft, Uber and Sidecar all announced new ridesharing options today revolving around carpooling.

Uber launched UberPool in San Francisco. Its a way to request a ride and request to share it with another person heading the same direction.

uberpoolThe key is that if they don’t find a matching rider, Uber will give you a discount on your ride. Initially, until more people start using UberPool, it will be difficult to find two people with roughly the same start location, end location and times. An app that only did ridematching would fail to match most of the time. However, with uberX providing a reliable fallback, using UberPool has no downside.

Uber claims that UberPool is part of their desire for people to ditch car ownership:

Since the early days of Uber, we’ve been excited about the idea of providing transportation so inexpensive and reliable, people can actually sell their cars.

While the UberPool idea is simple, the implications are profound. On average, uberX already costs 40% less than taxi. Imagine reducing that cost by up to another 40%! In San Francisco, how about $6 to Uber from the Castro to the Financial District? Or $10 from Sunset to SOMA? At these price points, Uber really is cost-competitive with owning a car, which is a game-changer for consumers.

UberPool has launched in private beta in San Francisco and will roll out more widely on August 15.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 12.18.49 PMAlso today, Sidecar announced Shareable Sidecars. They have been testing this feature in San Francisco for the last few months. Sharing a sidecar costs up to 50% less than a normal sidecar. Sidecar mentions that in many cases this is very competitive with the costs of public transit:

Now you can take Sidecar for 50% less, or just a little more than you’d pay for the metro or bus.

More than half of Sidecar riders use it for their daily commute, and Sidecar points out their value to cities:

Shared Rides are awesome for cities too. It takes cars off the road, saves space by curbing the need for parking, cuts down on traffic, slows street wear and tear and reduces pollution.

Meanwhile, Lyft launched Lyft Line today. Lyft Line is a new option in San Francisco for sharing rides with multiple people.

lyftline When using Lyft Line, you indicate your start and end points, and then Lyft searches for matching drivers and passengers. Within minutes, Lyft confirms you line and shows the price of your trip. The price is fixed, even if a matching passenger is unavailable.

Lyft claims that routes never add more than a few minutes to your travel time and that sharing a Lyft Line can cost 60% less than a normal Lyft. When using Lyft line, you can have a party of two. Lyft also suggests that if you have lots of luggage, pets or are an unaccompanied minor that you use a traditional Lyft.

UberPool, Lyft Line and Shareable Sidecars all provide lower cost, on-demand ridesharing for trips where the travel time is less important than the cost. In the case of Uber, they explicitly state that they would like to lower the cost to the point where it doesn’t make sense to own a car. These services are perfect for commutes with slightly flexible arrival times, longer distance trips, and trips to social events where travel time does not need to be minimized. Its impressive that they all launched on the same day.