Will 2013 be a Breakout Year for Ridesharing?

One of the most robust branches of the sharing economy is ridesharing. Making efficient use of cars and car trips is smart on every level and having access to wheels is a game-changer for city-dwellers who don’t want or have a car.

Recently, Markus Barnikel, CEO of Carpooling.com, a leading ridesharing service in Europe, wrote an article titled, Is This the Year We Ditch Our Cars and Start Sharing? In it, he makes the case that ridesharing is on the rise, and that far from being an urban convenience, it will become an urban necessity as record numbers of people move into cities.

He sees this year as a breakout one for ridesharing and details three trends that are driving the movement: increasing use of smartphones, personal accountability and connected transportation systems.

As CEO of a ridesharing company, Barnikel’s view is, well, biased -- we’re not all going to ditch our cars this year and ridesharing services tend to fall off outside of urban centers. However, he makes some good points; the most interesting is the potential intersection of ride sharing services with public transportation. Here’s a breakdown of the trends he sees driving ridesharing this year:

Smartphones
Smartphone use is on the rise, which makes ridesharing significantly more convenient. We can now browse, book and pay for a car or ride with our phones. This connectedness and ease-of-use takes sharing a ride to the next level of efficiency.

Accountability
A big part of the sharing economy is developing a good reputation across platforms that situates you as a trustworthy and reliable sharer. As open data, personal profiles and transaction transparency become part of our everyday lives we are able to better build strong and connected communities for sharing.

Connected Systems
This is an area that we’re not hearing much about right now in the US, but it has the potential to transform transportation as we know it: the connecting of peer-to-peer services with public transportation services including buses, trains and even planes. While the model for this level of connectedness is still developing, the picture of these services existing in cooperation rather than competition is exciting and just may represent the future of travel. As Barnikel writes, “What’s clear is that we need to stop thinking of peer-to-peer ridesharing as a competitor for public or B2C transportation systems but rather as the perfect complement--transforming the empty seats in private vehicles into an extensive transport network.”

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