Startups

If you’ve soured on Uber, try these homegrown ridesharing services

From the old-school ridesharing tradition of Sluglines to UberPOOL competitor Split, here's a look at how else you could be getting around.

For many, Uber is no longer the ideal ridesharing app.
Whether it’s out of fear of sexual assault, confusion over fare calculation or wanting to stand against unfair wages, there are many reasons consumers are seeking alternatives. In D.C., there’s Lyft and the new Via, but if you’re interested in riding local, we’ve got you covered.
From old-fashioned ridesharing to low-tech ridesharing, here are five services with local roots.

Curb

Curb began as Ride Charge, a venture-backed Alexandria, Va., startup, back in 2007 and was later purchased for an undisclosed amount by electronic payment company Verifone. According to Curb’s website, the company currently employs 100,000 drivers for 50,000 cars across 65 cities.
Curb functions much like Uber. The difference is that Curb lets you hail city cabs (and limousines, if you’re feelin’ that way) that are already deployed in fleets around cities and suburbs.
The app contains a handy “Pick Me Up Later” option in the hailing process. Fares are calculated with a $1.95 service charge plus a standard taxi fare for the city, meaning the service is more expensive than other ridesharing competitors.
Unlike Uber, Curb permits a variety of payment options from credit card to cash.

Split

We’ve covered Split extensively: from why they chose D.C. as its headquarters to its expansion to the challenges it faced in its first year.
Split is like Uber’s carpool offering, UberPOOL, without the surge pricing. Split also streamlines its pickups using an algorithm based on data from open-source maps. Instead of wasting time circling for parking spaces, Split’s algorithm directs drivers to wait at the nearest fire hydrants. Even so, because drivers are accommodating multiple passengers, wait time can be long.
Splits fare are cheap and clear: each fare is a flat fee of $2, plus $1 per mile.

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RightRides

A different style of ridesharing, RightRides isn’t an app nor is it available on-demand. Launched on Halloween night 2014, this is a free service for women, LGBT folks and children provided by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) as a harassment-free alternative other transportation options. This is a service with a specific audience in mind.
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) started as Hollaback D.C. in 2009 “for individuals to submit their public sexual harassment and assault experiences as a way to raise awareness about the prevalence of the problem in D.C.” Now CASS runs several advocacy projects, including RightRides.
RightRides is funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. It opens on holiday nights and weekends, and CASS admits they struggle with availability because they receive more requests than they can service. Passengers call a number to request a ride, and volunteers pick them up using donated Zipcars. Currently, RightRides is restructuring to accommodate transwomen.

Sluglines

Old-school ridesharing. The term “slugging” comes from bus passengers who tried to pass off fake coins as real fare, and later, bus passengers who thumbed a free ride from passing commuters. Commuters would give free rides to “slugging” passengers, who would form “sluglines” while they waited.
Sluglines, run by Kalai Kandasamy, maps out slugline locations, providing real-time data from users and a website forum for questions or complaints. The downside is that operation hours are limited to rush hours. But it’s completely free to hop a ride.

Capitol Bikeshare

Not all ridesharing services are about cars. The District’s bikeshare program gives users access to over 2,500 bikes throughout 300 station in D.C., Alexandria, Arlington and Montgomery County. Capitol Bikeshare also developed a companion app — BikeIt — which gives real-time availability of bikes at any station. BikeIt also forecasts availability based on user trends.
To use Bikeshare you must become a member, and the fees depend on what usage plan you choose. The rates can be confusing, but generally, bikes are free for the first 30 minutes, then incur an additional fee per every subsequent 30 minutes.

Companies: Split, Uber
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