Finding a carpool commuting buddy is easier today than it was a decade ago thanks to the web. There’s no small amount of web sites hoping to match up local commuters and help reduce the number of cars on the road. And that’s a good thing so we can all cut down on carbon emissions and save a little money.
But even with a lot of options out there, there’s a decent chance that a new Facebook Carpool app will do well, given Facebook’s unique level of trust amongst its users and its 30 million-strong userbase. Matt Van Horn (of Digg), Logan Green, Rajat Suri, and Parker Abercrombie recently launched the Facebook App “Carpool,” which let’s Facebook users share rides with friends and people they feel comfortable with.
Van Horn e-mailed us recently to tell us about the new app:
“Social-networking has changed the game. This disruptive technology has made it possible for people to establish trust in an online environment, thereby shattering the bottleneck for online-ridesharing.” Matt Van Horn
Riding the high level of trust in Facebook’s community could be Carpool’s ticket to popularity. There’s already a lot of carpooling sites like CarpoolConnect, iCarpool, CarpoolWorld, SharetheRide, and eRideShare.
But it’s harder for these carpool sites to address the issues of safety. We’re taught not to get into stranger’s cars, and while choosing to share a ride with a stranger online is becoming more acceptable, it’s not any safer. Facebook is one of the few social networks where users commonly share their real names and phone numbers.
Facebook also has the numbers to support the application. Carpooling sites need a lot of users to work well. For example Craigslist.com’s rideshare section, which focuses more on long distance ridesharing than commuting, is easier to use in big cities where large populations are using the site.
Though, the Carpool application hasn’t brought in too many users yet. Carpool currently has just 2,862 users signed up right now. Compared to Facebook top app’s Top Friends (9,677,647 users), Graffiti (5,454,230 users), and iLike (5,016,447 users), Carpool’s numbers are unimpressive (via Appaholic).
Well, I for one decided to sign up. It was interesting to see the “My Statistics” section, which lists how many of my friends are currently on Carpool (1), how many rides are available in San Francisco (20), and how many total rides are currently listed (398). The stats section also includes how many rides shared, miles traveled, and total CO2 emissions reduced.
It’s a neat idea if it catches on, and I like that you can do a bit of research into your carpool mate’s history before jumping into a moving vehicle with him or her. Users can also post their offered or requested rides, and include how much they are willing to pay (or how much money they want) in exchange for a ride.
For now the app still suffers from a problem most carpool sites have – not enough users. When I checked out the carpools offered and requested near my hometown of Old Bridge, NJ, there were only four options. And one of them was a rideshare from New York to Los Angeles.