ZoomPool: Trying to Make Ridesharing Less Creepy and More Convenient


Looking for a safer, more reliable carpooling service? Check out ZoomPool, a new Web site launched initially for drivers and passengers to coordinate carpooling in the Bay Area. The new service addresses three main barriers to carpooling, the site says: “concern for safety, unreliable financial transactions, and lack of spontaneity.”

Fast Company sums up the Web-based solution well:

Up to 85% of all car rides are made alone: The next time you’re on the road, forget your gas mileage for a second, and just imagine how many people driving right by you are actually going to the same place. In our carbon-conscious times, that’s insanity.

The answer, of course, is car pooling. Find a ride partner, and your carbon footprints drop by half. And therein lies the problem. How do you find a suitable match? Do you really want to drive 30 minutes with a sweaty stranger whose only cares are World of Warcraft and hockey?

We shared a video about a similar ridesharing service, called ZimRide (now known as Facebook Carpool), in a previous post (Zimride was also launched in California, homeland of car culture.)

To learn more about this solution to hitching a ride using online technology and social networking, read this great string of posts on DIYcity: “Building a Ridesharing App That Works.”

John Geraci, who has spent the last six years trying to make life in cities better with the use of Web technologies through projects like DIYcity and Outside.in, is trying to build a knowledge base of do’s and dont’s for how to build the most effective Web app for ridesharing purposes.

The common obstacles, he says, are that 1) it’s hard to find rides from a specific Point A to a specific Point B, 2) there’s a lack of trust (creep factor!), and 3) the current apps available online are under-publicized.

He suggests that an application be developed on Facebook, where there is already an existing community of users (no need to fill out another lengthy profile questionnaire!) The app should also address inter-city travel and customize searches based on exactly where you’re interested in going.

Other ideas include creating applications for a niche group of users, like students on a particular college campus or employees at a big corporation, to more effectively achieve a critical mass.

To explore these and other issues, you can also check out DynamicRidesharing.org, an information-sharing Web site about ridesharing best practices.

Here’s a list of other ridesharing applications to explore:

Selling point: “real-time carpooling for the iPhone generation”

(Founded by TheCityFix blogger and sustainable mobility visionary, Robin Chase)
Selling point: “turn your social networks into travel networks”

Tagline: “Save money and the environment at the same time!”

Tagline: “Share. Save. Socialize.”

Selling point: “Organize carpools with families you know and trust”

Selling point: “an opportunity for a grass roots movement to fundamentally change drive alone patterns.”

Tagline: “The ‘e’ is for ‘easy'”

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