Sidecar says 13,000 passengers share rides, fares with strangers

Lyft and Uber both announced they're getting into shared rides, but Sidecar says it's been testing carpooling options for months.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam

San Francisco resident and ride sharing enthusiast Kenny Liao poses next to his car, which he uses to give rides as a Sidecar driver. Courtesy of Kenny Liao

Sidecar promoted its carpooling option Wednesday, saying that 13,000 passengers have used its app to share a ride with a stranger and split the fare.

The peer-to-peer car service said passengers can save up to 50 percent on rides if they share it with another passenger going the same way. Sidecar began testing the option, called Shared Rides, on May 15. Only San Francisco patrons can select the option for now, but Sidecar has plans to roll out the service to its other nine cities before the end of the year. Sidecar's app lets users order a car through their smartphones.

The announcement comes shortly after competing car-hailing apps Lyft and Uber announced their own shared ride features. Uber's UberPool service boasts 40 percent savings, while Lyft's new Lyft Line service is expected to save riders between 30 to 60 percent.

"Shared Rides opens the door to safe, affordable and accessible transportation for people who might otherwise find services like Sidecar cost prohibitive," Sidecar's Head of Communications Margaret Ryan wrote in a blog post Wednesday. "This is the key to taking ride-share mainstream."

When selected, the Shared Rides algorithms will match a passenger up to others who are going the same way. Ryan said this is also an ideal option for drivers who already use Sidecar on a regular basis. More than half of Sidecar riders use the service for their daily commutes, according to the company.