Lesson 2: The History of Ridesharing

Hello and welcome to your second lesson at the Rideshare Academy. In this lesson, we will cover the history of ridesharing and how it came to be. This lesson is broken into two parts.

Whether you have completed lesson one or are just jumping in now, make sure to review the courses previous material so that you have a clear understanding of the terms and topics being covered.

Video Overview

New Spin on Old Ideas

The term ridesharing literally means to share a ride. Whether it be with your spouse, a friend, a family member or a stranger, the word remains the same. It is a way to help people who don’t have their own vehicles get from point A to point B.

Historically, when individuals rideshare or share a ride, it has been done using private transit systems developed by companies, unions or even the government. While public transit options, like the bus, may be cheap, it is plagued by inconvenient schedules, stops and unexpected rider problems. Back then, opening an app and quickly contacting Uber wasn’t an option, after all.

Carpooling or ridesharing on the other hand has been an effective way for people with similar schedules and work locations to help meet the demands of one another. In turn, this leads to time and money being saved.

The Evolution of On-demand Ridesharing

I think that it is safe to say that the most common on-demand ridesharing platform is the Taxi cab Co. Historically, Taxi cabs date back hundreds of years before cars or vehicles were even invented. Thankfully for carriages, the idea of ridesharing was created and has lived long to prosper, since.

As a result, this is also the first documented use of dynamic ridesharing. The yellow taxicabs did not appear until much later in 1907.

Efforts to establish real-time ridesharing outside of the taxi industry have been around since the 1990’s. However, the lack of fast internet communication and social media networks made this almost impossible.

Even a decade later in the early 2000’s, next-day ridesharing was still considered the fastest setup there was. Back then, real-time ridesharing was still done mostly over the phone and seemed like anything but dynamic!

It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that rideshare companies launched, and experienced incredibly aggressive growth, thanks in part to the large driver bonuses and huge amounts of free ride credit companies like Uber and Lyft were giving away.

New Competitors

As the rideshare industry grows, more and more competitors are popping up. Uber and Lyft has established themselves as embattled behemoths, but little guys like Via are challenging the throne. Even Amazon is getting into the action with it’s own service, Amazon Flex, which aims to vertically integrate it’s delivery operations using it’s own network of on-demand couriers.

These are exciting times for drivers and riders alike, and we’re excited to see where the future goes from here.

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Ridesharing Then and Now

As we have mentioned above, ridesharing has been around for almost as long as vehicles and cars. Skip ahead a few hundred years and even many cities in America have established the far left lane of major highways as a commuter lane only.  In essence, this lane is to be used by vehicles containing two or more persons.

The picture below illustrates how vehicles with more than one passenger are taking advantage of the ridesharing or carpool lane. As a side note, most cities have designated hours for carpooling. If you are not in that lane within those hours, expect there to be cars or vehicles without two or more persons.

In 1974, Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Energy Highway Conservation Act which included funding for ridesharing initiatives and carpooling to reduce emissions of vehicles on a widescale level.

 Fun Fact: Ridesharing (also called carpooling) was more active in the 1970’s than it is today on a per capita basis. While ridesharing as we know it today is through the use of modern technology, it was not always once this way.

Ridesharing has Changed Drastically, but For The Better

While ridesharing may have seen it’s largest boom in the 1970’s, it was not without it’s flaws. Below, are some of the reasons why ridesharing now is better than it was almost 60 years ago.

  • Safety – In the 1970’s, automobile’s were not able to withstand car crashes and impacts like they can today. The mortality rate associated with car crashes was significantly higher back then.
  • Background Checks – In the 1970’s, background checks were not regularly conducted on taxi drivers. In fact, your driver back then may have not had insurance or a license at all.
  • On Demand – One of the biggest changes in ridesharing has been through the use of mobile technology. Prior to 2014, if you wanted to carpool with a group of people you would have to prearrange to meet them at a specific time at a designated location. Now, it’s easy to connect using an app or social media.
  • Mobile Apps – Only recently has mobile technology and the internet been able to meet the demands of on-demand ridesharing. When Sidecar (Americas first modern ridesharing company) hit the scene almost a decade a go, they were not prepared for what technological hurdles they would see.

The History of Ridesharing Recap

Below are some questions about this module. Take the time to consider the information you have read and answer these questions in your head.

1.) What does ridesharing mean? Both in a literal and figurative sense?
2.) Is ridesharing considered a public transit systems or private?
3.) True or False – Ridesharing is a relatively new idea with the invention of economic gas saving vehicles?
4.) What is the far left lane on some highways in America used for? Can you travel in it as a rideshare driver?
5.) What did Richard Nixon sign in 1974 and what was the point of the act?
6.) We’ve listed some reasons how ridesharing has changed drastically for the better, but what does that mean to you and how will you pass on that belief system to your riders?
7.) Is ridesharing now safer than it use to be? While many believe that it’s not, most major ridesharing companies believe that it is. How will you make sure your rides and riders are safe?

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