Commuting can be a beast, albeit a very necessary and consistent beast.
One of the nice things about this brave new world, though, is that there are some creative new ways to get to and from work. The International Energy Association projected in 2012 that there will be 1.7 billion cars on the road by 2035 (and half of them will be clogged up at your least favorite intersection). To help, we've got a roundup of rideshare apps, across the US, in various stages of development.
1. Carma Carpooling
Carma differentiates itself as a carpooling app rather than ridesharing app. According to Product Manager Emmett Murphy, the app lets users share commuting costs with neighbors and colleagues headed the same way. Riders pay .20 per mile, standard, which means drivers don't make a profit. "Because Carma drivers simply use it on their way to and from work, they never need to detour to other destinations," Murphy said. Once the trip starts, a timer on the app keeps track of the trip distance and automatically pays the driver when the trip ends.
Sidecar's big boast is that passengers will always know the price of the ride upfront. A passenger can pick from cars in the area based on profiles that include details like distance, quality of the car, fare, rider reviews, and whatever other bio info the driver has included. Passengers can also favorite drivers, and those will be sorted toward the top of the passenger's options list whenever the driver is online and nearby when rider is looking.
3. Trees for Cars
Like many other ride share apps, Trees for Cars connects drivers and passengers. Where it differs, is that it was designed by a homeless man named Leo Grand. Grand was given free coding lessons during the course of several weeks, by a software engineer named Patrick McConlogue. Grand's first move was to design an app to make ridesharing easier, in order to decrease CO2 emissions.
Drivers looking to fill seats on Zimride can accept passengers based on profiles that include information like musical preferences, interests, and past feedback. Passengers can book rides, and a driver has 24 hours to accept a request from a passenger. Once the request is accepted, PayPal bills the passenger — unless the driver flakes out.
"We bring the entire transportation ecosystem together," said RideScout CEO, Joseph Kopser. Instead of focusing just on bikeshares, carpools, or bus schedules RideScout offers all available options and allows the user to compare, including some of the other apps on this list, like Carma and Sidecar. "It's an experience everyone faces," Kopser said, "you may have your set route, but life throws you a curveball." As of April 10, RideScout is launching in the Bay Area, the app's newest addition. Other locations include Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C.. Kopser is aiming for a total of six cities by June.
Uber matches passengers requesting rides with drivers based on the GPS location of the passenger's phone. The apps sends driver contact information to the passenger, and a text when the driver arrives. Uber will quote fares and allow payment with credit card. The passenger can leave a review to rate how well the ride goes. One feature that makes Uber different from many other ride share apps is that there are levels, so users can request everyday cars, taxis, SUVs, and black cars of increasing luxury.
Lyft lets users request a ride. Every driver needs to pass a DMV check and background check before he can get started. At the end of the ride, the app prompts the passenger to pay with stored credit card information. Some cities operate on a donation basis rather than a set charge, so a better driver might earn a little more.
"We think Hitch is a game-changer for daily commuters, where the recurring nature of commuting makes cost an even larger factor," said Snir Kodesh, co-founder of Hitch. A user looking for a ride somewhere can drop two pins on the app's map, and Hitch will find a car heading in the direction of the user's destination. Pairing multiple passengers together keeps the cost lower. The app is in pre-launch in San Francisco, looking to officially launch in the next few weeks.
9. Red Ride
Red Ride gets pretty meta. The app corrals ride information from Uber, car2go, Lyft, and Sidecar, and lets the user see which cars can arrive the fastest. Red Ride then pushes the user to the app he chooses.
Rideout does both on demand and scheduled rides. Upon sending a request, the passenger waits for the driver to accept, and the passenger can check out the driver's details, including location and type of car. When the ride is over, the passenger pays and rates the driver. Rideout also lets the user chose from taxis, town cars, SUVs, limos, executive shuttles, and party buses. "We also offers deals at local establishments and events for customers who use Rideout for transportation to places that offer Rideout deals," said Rideout Founding Partner Brandon Cunningham. He also promises no price surges during peak hours.
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.