Booking a lift via car ride sharing startup Zimride can be a good option for a long trip that you schedule in advance (think hitching a ride to San Francisco to L.A.) But what about if you want to catch a ride right now? To address that need Zimride is launching a new experimental mobile app called Lyft that will enable drivers and riders to connect in real time.
The app, only available via invite for now, lets potential riders look for available drivers close by and request rides. The riders and drivers can look at each other’s profiles and the app is using Facebook Connect for log-in and social security. Once booked, riders can watch their drivers navigate to them on a mobile map in real-time. Riders pay the driver based on a suggested donation model via the app itself (no cash exchange) and Zimride says the rides will be about 30 percent cheaper than a cab.
The biggest hurdle with these types of apps will likely be safety issues — riders getting picked up by drivers they don’t feel comfortable with. To address some of these concerns, the company says drivers will be vetted via car inspections, background checks, personal interviews and DMV record checks. Zimrides says its fellow 500 Startups-backed company Task Rabbit advised it on some of these security moves.
For now the service will only be available via evening commute hours, which aligns it with car-poolers. Over time, the service will be available 24-7 says Zimrides. San Francisco is rapidly becoming a test bed for these types of next-gen, more efficient, transportation apps, like Scoot Networks and Ridepal. Love this growing movement.