It’s no secret that the transportation system in San Francisco needs improvement. Most of us have experienced the frustration that accompanies waiting for a cab that never shows up or sitting in traffic on a MUNI bus. That’s why it’s so exciting when a new idea comes along – one that will hopefully bring some much-needed innovation to our commutes.

SideCar, described as a “community-based, real-time ridesharing marketplace” is an app that aims to connect passengers in need of a ride with drivers who have extra space in their cars.

SideCar: Cutting San Francisco Drivers’ Expenses

SideCar’s drivers aren’t professionals like those that operate cabs or limos – they’re just regular people looking for a way to make some extra money when they drive. With the cost of owning a car pushing $10,000, making a little extra money being a SideCar driver seems like a reasonable way to help offset the burden of insurance, maintenance and gas.

Passengers enter their pick up and drop off information into the app, and SideCar shows them the nearest drivers and their ETA. As opposed to calling a cab and having no idea whether one is coming or not, apps like SideCar and Uber allow the user to view their driver on a map as they get closer to picking them up.

Making a donation to the driver at the end of the ride is optional and many passengers use SideCar’s “community average” to discern an appropriate donation based on what other riders have given for comparable rides. According to data collected in beta-testing, SideCar’s “community average” is generally cheaper than hailing a cab.

The app also relies on a crowdsourced passenger and driver rating system. App users can rate “high” for polite, personable carpool-mates and “low” for those they would rather not ride with again. This function, along with the fact that users are unable to register for the ride-sharing service anonymously and drivers go through an extensive vetting process, helps keep both drivers and passengers safe.

Why Is Ridesharing Important?

Ridesharing isn’t beneficial only for the passengers and drivers. With an increase in carpooling and thus a decrease in cars on the road, ridesharing decreases street congestion, car pollution will contribute less to global climate change and navigating the city will be a little easier for everyone.

While SideCar certainly isn’t the ultimate solution for all of our transportation woes, it is a step in the right direction and a viable alternative option for many San Franciscans. As great as public transportation and non-automotive methods of transportation can be, it isn’t feasible for everyone to give up their cars in favor of biking or taking MUNI. If ride-sharing can be safe, easy and accessible, why not give it a try?