Social Media Apps Put Ride Sharing on the Map

Ride share websites and mobile apps take the guesswork out of finding a ride and move social networking offline and onto the open road, fueling a revival of car-pooling, reports Mickey Meece.

July 10, 2012, 6:00 AM PDT

By Emily Williams

It seems like just yesterday that The New York Times relegated car pools to the dustbin of history, along with disco and hitchhiking. Car-pooling, or ride sharing, has seen its ups and downs in popularity in the recent past, and has been under threat by the convenience that comes with owning and driving your own car. But, as Meece notes, ride-sharing and car-pooling, "are having a moment." So what's changed in the past year?

"'It's been a tough sell in the U.S. for a long time,' said David Burwell, director of the energy and climate program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. What is different now, Mr. Burwell said, is the advancement of digital technology and social networking, 'which removed a significant amount of barriers.'"

With a laundry list of ride share sites now available, it seems that people are coming around to the idea again. Social media sites have become such an integral part of people's daily lives that it's no wonder people have started using them as decision-making tools. Meece claims that safety concerns, too, are being satisfied by the requirement of some of these sites to log in through Facebook, which allows users to conduct their own background checks on potential passengers. Ridejoy, for example, "plans to introduce digital identification verification and background checks to its other safety mechanisms, which include Facebook integration, user reviews and references, plus a safety checklist sent to users."

These ride share sites and apps are another way of "taking online social networks offline," allowing virtual socializing to move into the real world. "If car-pooling is done right," said chief executive Markus Barnikel, "you'll likely have a better sense of the person driving a ride-share vehicle than you do a bus or taxi driver, and can even forge a relationship with them."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 in The New York Times

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