Getting around San Francisco with iPhone ride sharing app SideCar

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Montage of San Francisco shots.

Need to get somewhere in San Francisco other than Alcatraz? Try the SideCar iPhone app and request a ride! (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Roif456/Wikipedia)

Getting around a big town like San Francisco can be an expensive or otherwise inconvenience proposition when you don’t have a car. For those who do have a car and want to rent themselves out as an affordable taxi-competing ride for hire service, there’s the iPhone app SideCar. Drivers and passengers in need of assistance can easily come together in a financially agreeable arrangement.

On-demand ride sharing with no fuss

SideCar empowers iPhone users to check for a ride in their area. All they have to do is specify where they want a pickup, and where they want to go. Pre-registered drivers that have been screened by the app development company are then matched with passengers, based upon proximity. Drives have the option of whether they want to respond, and can set the suggested fare, which in most cases beats the pants off what a passenger would pay for a taxi.

“We’re trying to set up a situation where people share the burden of transportation with each other,” said SideCar Director of Marketing Blake Wirht. “Longer trips tend to be significantly less than taxis and shorter trips are more on par, but generally it’s a better deal.”

Voluntary donations in the SideCar

Based entirely upon donations, SideCar does not require passengers to pay in advance. The app will suggest a community average based upon what nearby drivers are taking in for similar-distance rides. Honor system regarding agreed upon payment and a “Golden Rule” code of conduct are gently suggested by the app makers.

These guidelines reportedly conform to the ride sharing regulations of the state of California. In order to ensure that transactions go reasonably well, there is a rating system in place for both drivers and passengers. If a rating is low, a driver can decide on the fly whether to respond to a passenger’s call.

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Taking rides from strangers

The question of safety is one that some critics of services like SideCar have raised. Wirht responds that safety of passenger and driver are SideCar’s primary focus.

“In order to be approved as a driver, you have to go through a vetting process, a background check, proof of your valid insurance, proof of driver’s license and proof of registration,” he said.

Rides are also tracked via GPS and passengers are registered with a valid credit card.

“We know who everyone is,” he said. “It’s the visibility that creates a very safe environment.”

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