Carpooling 2.0: Share Rides To Events Through Facebook
Sharing a car with friends to work or a party has many benefits, including financial and environmental ones. But carpooling, as most of us know it, is usually limited to a small group of people who regularly need the same destination as you.
Recently, online carpooling has been attempted as a means to expand the reach of sharing rides, but it has several drawbacks. Many sites tell users to post their driving times and destinations, but few have succeeded as people feel uncomfortable riding with strangers.
An Israeli start-up, called Ridefrog, offers a new perspective on carpooling, by integrating its feature with Facebook events, where people can see exactly who is going and how those people are connected to them. “An event is a situation in which a critical mass of people will come approximately from the same area, in the same hours. If every invitee arrives with his or hers car, it’s very wasteful,” Ophir Reshef, CEO and co-founder of Ridefrog told NoCamels.
Ridefrog focuses on specific situations that have a large potential for carpooling – “a critical mass of users that are already there.” To use Ridefrog users have to connect with their Facebook accounts. The user’s events and friends are listed on Ridefrog’s website and a link to the site is then inserted in the event’s page so that people know that the event is “carpoolable.” A Facebook app is currently being worked on to streamline the process.
For now Ridefrog is not specializing in a certain geographical area or country. “We’re global. After a while we’ll see which areas are more suitable – different areas have different needs and cultural attitudes.”
Reshef says that in Israel, for example, “the fuel costs are often higher than the event itself.” Ridefrog, which is currently in open beta stage, also makes it easy for carpoolers to share the cost of the ride, but leaves it up to the driver and riders to decide whether to do so or not.
Reshef says the benefits are not only financial or environmental, but social. “I do like to drive, but not alone. Maor, one of the partners, doesn’t like to drive at all. Big events are naturally social- weddings, parties and festivals. We offer a social solution which is safer and has an added benefit, not a burden.
The connection with Facebook allows a user to see which friends are already attending- easier than go over all the attending list. Geographical representation of the friends is available with Google Maps and it is based on their profile’s current location. “It’s much more comfortable to share a ride with people you know. If you put yourself up as a driver, you can invite friends to your ride.”
“Facebook has a great database that can be used to get to know potential riders. Writing on an event’s wall ‘hey, is someone from X coming?’ can be awkward and useless. Sending a message to a random person is not a common either. With Ridefrog you can interact with others more easily because it is based on your willingness to join or initiate a ride,” he added.
Another useful feature is the website’s real-time information. Every car available for carpooling has the message “I can drive” and states how many seats are vacant and the price (if there is one.)