Now that hybrid vehicles lost their single-occupancy privileges in California carpool lanes, ride sharing could start to sound a lot more appealing to commuters. To make it easier to fill empty seats and get back into HOV lanes, commuters can download free mobile apps that help match drivers with riders.
Carpooling apps take different approaches to finding rides. They range from casual hand-raising trips to the airport to carefully guarded destinations and requests with details divulged if and when a match is found. Others, like ZimRide, use a network-based approach that restricts carpools to people within the same university or company.
Considering that these carpooling apps are fighting for the same small pool of commuters, you may have to download all of the following free apps to find a ride share that works for you.
Avego Driver: This carpooling app matches drivers with riders in real time rather than scheduling trips in advance. Once a match is made, the app manages pickup and dropoff locations, and automatically divides the cost of the commute across all the riders using micropayments. The app is rated 3 stars on iTunes, and it was also recently made available for Windows Phone 7 to help make the 520 bridge commute more bearable for Microsoft employees.
Carticipate: Schedule or request a ride in advance or simply browse the list of posted trips in your area to find a carpool. The app leaves it up to you to connect with the driver or rider via e-mail and work out the cost-sharing details. While the app seems pretty straightforward, it appears to have fallen off the radar of most commuters--the last posted ride was in July 2009. Available for iPhone only.
RideRemedy: It's the only carpooling app that lets you look for riders to share a cab. It's also the carpooling app of choice for information privacy freaks or commuters with active stalkers. To use RideRemedy, you need to enter a destination with exact the travel date and wait for the app to try to match you with a ride or passenger. Although the app's profile settings allow some flexibility with departure times and destination distance, you can't tell if anyone near you or at your destination is using the app. When a ride is matched, you communicate with carpoolers using an in-app text messaging feature, and in-app calculators help you split costs and find out how much CO2 carpooling saved. Available for iPhone only.