Capitol Hill residents can be bold in their pedestrian activities and range far knowing there’s a fleet of vehicles ready to give them a ride back to the neighborhood thanks to app-based pick-up services like Uber, rental services of Car2Go and ZipCar, and two new carsharing services called SideCar and Lyft.
“Ride sharing services like SideCar can make cities like ours less congested and less polluted,” says Lee Colleton who occasionally drives for SideCar around Capitol Hill.
Unlike taxi and rental services, car sharing services work by allowing drivers to use their own vehicles and work on their own time. Passengers are not required to pay the driver, which allows the companies to avoid commercial licenses required by taxicabs services.
“We make a donation recommendation based on the length of the trip, but they’re not required to pay anything,” says Amit Patel, the marketing manager for Lyft. “Fortunately, most of our passengers do.”
Colleton says he makes around $9 per ride, and has only given two rides without receiving a donation in the past five months.
SideCar, however, reports its drivers earn an average of $20 an hour in donations during heavy ride times – including Fridays through Sundays, according to SideCar’s Seattle City Manager, Alex LaChance.
“For our drivers, our goal is to help them cover the cost of car ownership,” LaChance says.
While the community of rideshares view the service as a connection device between drivers and passengers, operating the un-regulated service is causing some issues. LaChance says SideCar hasn’t experienced licensing issues in Seattle yet, but the company last week filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin, after the city accused the company of violating its Transportation Code. SideCar has a petition on Change.org regarding the cease and desist letter, and vows to defend its case because:
· SideCar is not a transportation service. SideCar is a technology platform that enables peer-to-peer ridesharing.
· The City Code regulates “chauffeured vehicles”. We don’t own or operate vehicles, dispatch drivers or mandate shifts.
· The City Code regulates “chauffeured vehicles” for a fee. Members of the SideCar rideshare community pay what they want and it’s voluntary.
· SideCar is protected under federal law.
Sidecar, Lyft and Uber have also been targeted by the California Public Utilities Commission, which has also served the ride-share startups cease-and-desist letters until they are regulated, according to TechCrunch.
“SideCar will continue to defend ridesharing and the freedom of choice everywhere we go,” LaChance says.
With safety also a concern, both Sidecar and Lyft require their drivers to pass a background and drivers record check, drive a model year 2000 or newer vehicle and have valid insurance – backed by the company’s $1 million liability insurance. Passengers and drivers also rate each other after each ride to validate their credentials. The cashless system also allows passengers to donate through credit cards registered on the app, ensuring passengers aren’t anonymous.
“I’ve given many rides to inebriated people but only a few occasions have caused concern,” Colleton says. “The obvious near spoilage of upholstery was averted by quick stops for relief at the curb on the way out to a bus-forsaken Magnolia home. I felt sorry for the fellows in that case; had it not been for the late hour and freezing fog, I’d have told them to take the bus: Even taxi drivers can refuse to pick people up if they’re three sheets to the wind.”
Passengers looking to take a ride can download the Lyft and Sidecar apps to locate a driver. The services are actively accepting applications for new drivers. Requirements can be found on the respective websites.
Sidecar services are already available in Seattle. Lyft is planning to launch Friday, according to Patel. Look for the giant, fluffy pink mustache hood ornaments to know when they arrive on the Hill.
Meanwhile, one-way car sharing service Car2Go won an expansion of its Seattle business this weeks as the City Council voted on Monday to approve a 45% in the service’s fleet and the expansion of the service’s boundaries to West Seattle, Beacon Hill, Columbia City and Georgetown. With the added territory, there’s no telling if boosting the number of Seattle cars to close to 500 will make it any easier to find an open Car2Go vehicle on Capitol Hill during the morning commute.