In the future, every car is going to be part of the future personal transportation service. If there’s a vehicle with available empty seats going to same direction than you are, the chances are that you’ll get onboard with that car. Things are changing – the younger generation no longer sees owning a BMW as something cool, but however, getting from place A to B with just a few clicks on your iPhone is something they want. There are already several startups offering services to get you from A to B but they are struggling with various problems, and to be honest, the current services are not yet truly disruptive either. Yet based on the initial success of these services one may be assured that there is also a true revolution in the personal transportation coming up. Strong resistance from the traditional taxi companies and taxi associations is only one proof of that.
Let’s get back to the original problem. People want to get from place A to B as easily as possible. Time is money so riding all day is not an option, but still the cost of the trip is one of the key factors to consider in order to expand the utilization of these services. Just lowering the prices is not going to work as soon nobody would be driving these vehicles. Self-driving cars may solve this problem one day but not quite yet. The solution is to utilize better the existing seat capacity in the vehicles by means of the ridesharing. And the same principle will apply even when drivers are no longer needed as there are, after all, too many vehicles in many cities in the world on the roads already and the seat utilization is going to be more and more important part of the solution.
A bit longer ride but a lot more affordable
So how would this work from the end user’s point of view when using a transportation service? The smartphone app would simply have an additional “ridesharing” option which the user (passenger-to-be) can select while ordering the trip. The vehicle chosen by the system could be a car already going into same direction with another passenger. Or, it could be an empty car which will pick up another passenger along the route. Instead of the usual pickup in for example 10 minutes the vehicle may arrive in 20 minutes and the trip may take a bit longer than a direct route would take. For example, if the direct route from A to B would be 20 minutes, the shared ride might take 30 minutes. You could also order a trip based on the latest arrival time in the destination, a handy way to to ensure you don’t get there late even in case of ridesharing.
In exchange for an opportunity of chatting with somebody (who actually might be your Facebook or LinkedIn contact) you’d be saving money. Instead of non-shared price of (for example) $27 you might be paying only $15. And best of all, the driver could be earning more than what he had made otherwise. You might also meet new faces, and experience life in a totally new way. True win-win for all the parties, and a cure for the driver problem as well.
Every car is part of the personal transportation network
Ridesharing as an integrated part of those transportation services where another person is your private driver is just the beginning of the new era in the personal transportation. The next obvious step would be expanding the concept to every other vehicle moving on the road. It’s likely that increasing taxation on the vehicle usage will motivate even those driving with their own car to take passengers along the route – as long as the trip duration of the driver (who owns the car, after all, and can therefore get some benefits…) is not extended too much. Maybe the tax man will get really innovative and taxes will be higher for those not participating these new personal transportation service concepts. You can think about this as a huge system where the destination of every car is known in advance. You’ll be matched to such a vehicle which fits not only your destination but may also matches your social profile (Facebook, for example) – especially in case of carpooling.
Finally, real-time carpooling for commuting and and any other personal transportation need becomes a reality. And you no longer book “a carpool trip” with your mobile phone but you rather indicate with your smartphone a desire to get somewhere. Carpooling with somebody will likely to be the cheapest travel option but in order to ensure you always get to your destination, the other alternate transportation services (taxi-sharing and taxi) will be needed to offer you this guaranteed ride. Otherwise you might still need your own car. But who will own those private cars with whom can you carpool? If driving your own car requires you to be wealthy, will they take you as a passenger? Whether the future is not changing that fast is yet to be found out.
But who’s has a chance to be the Black Swan of the future personal transportation services? Read about that in my next post.