How many ride shares does it take to emerge from beta testing? If you're the San Francisco-based company SideCar, then it's somewhere north of 10,000.

That's how many rides around the Bay Area that SideCar has helped organize since kicking off in the middle of February. The peer-to-peer car sharing service officially launched this week, and it remains to be seen how it will fit into the long history of similar services that have launched in the past, including Zimride, Ride Remedy, RoadSharing, Carticipate and others. Despite all this, SideCar's CEO, Sunil Paul, calls SideCar the, "first ever crowd-sourced transportation network." Whatever it is, it's got potential.

The idea behind these P2P ride- and car-sharing groups is to maximize the utility of our vehicles. As plug-in vehicle advocates often say when talking about finding time to charge a car, the average vehicle sits still most of its life. SideCar wants to make the trips you do take all the more energy efficient – and possibly financially rewarding – by taking along someone who's headed where you're going. It's similar to the informal slugging that takes place in some cities (like Washington, D.C.). SideCar just does it with your smart phone instead of parking lots and Metro stations. Drivers need to sign up at the SideCar website and then riders use the site or the mobile apps to request pick-up and drop-off locations. Drivers then look the requests over and arrange a ride. When the trip is done, the rider may pay for the ride by making "a monetary contribution to the driver." This can be the average payment for the route (as calculated by the app) or another amount and is all done through the SideCar apps. Any readers try this yet?
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SIDECAR CONNECTS DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS ONE RIDE AT A TIME

More Than 10,000 Rides Shared in Under Four Months

SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2012) – SideCar (Side.cr), the first on-demand rideshare community, launched today after successful beta testing in San Francisco. SideCar has been operating in beta since mid-February, and has already facilitated 10,000 rides across the city of San Francisco. SideCar is a new peer-to-peer transportation community that provides members a new option for personal transportation. The SideCar app connects everyday drivers who have a car with others in the community looking for transportation options beyond hired cars, taxis or mass transit. The mobile application is available free for download for passengers via the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users. Drivers can apply to be part of the community at www.side.cr/drive.

"SideCar is more than just the easiest way to get around the city. We have created a platform for the first ever crowd-sourced transportation network," said Sunil Paul, CEO, SideCar. "With SideCar we can help reduce urban congestion, fight climate change and bring back a sense of community and connection to our cities. It's an instant, cost effective, environmentally conscious and fun option for getting from place to place. And with the traction we're seeing, people love it."

The community is growing quickly and SideCar is on the lookout for more drivers to share rides with people in the city. Drivers can cover the cost of vehicle ownership, maintenance and gas, all while meeting new people in their local area.

"I love SideCar. I started out driving to cover the cost of my car but now I just love meeting all the interesting people this city has to offer. I often see the same people and I'm getting to know them. It's more fun that you can imagine at first," said Eric Janson, who drives with the SideCar app. "The other great thing is I can login to the app whenever it suits me, so it's completely flexible for my schedule."

How it Works:

Riders place a request to rideshare by setting a pick-up and drop off location via the app. Once the request is confirmed, riders can view the driver approaching in real-time and see the driver's estimated time of arrival. If they choose, riders have the option to share their ETA with family and friends and rate their experience following the rideshare. Riders may also use app to make a monetary contribution to the driver. The application aggregates the current community average donations to offer passengers an easy way to decide how much to donate for their ride. No cash or other form of payment outside of the app is accepted and it is up to riders' discretion whether they make a contribution to their driver for the ride.

Drivers login to the app when they are available to offer a ride and then receive an alert when a rider submits a rideshare request. Drivers can accept the rider's request via the app and call them to let them know they are on their way. Drivers also have opportunity to rate their experience with the rider at the conclusion of the ride. Drivers are frequently able to cover the cost of the maintenance and operation of their vehicle as a result of theirparticipation in the SideCar community.

To enhance safety for drivers and passengers and foster trust within the community, SideCar screens all community members who are interested in driving. Screening includes a background check, driver's license verification, proof of insurance and an interview. Additionally, the opportunity for both drivers and riders to rate their experiences helps to establish community safety and trust. Drivers or riders who receive negative ratings are flagged to SideCar and an investigation is conducted to ensure that any potential issue is addressed with minimal impact to the community.

About SideCar

SideCar was founded in January 2012 by Sunil Paul, Jahan Khanna, and Adrian Fortino. SideCar began beta testing in February 2012 and has facilitated more than ten thousand rides within San Francisco sincethat time. The company has received seed funding from notable investors including Spring Ventures, where Sunil Paul is a partner, Huron River Ventures, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, First Step Fund, Jeff Clarke, Lisa Gansky, Robert Goldberg, Jared Kopf, Konstantin Othmer, Mark Pincus, Martin Roscheisen, Josh Silverman, Thomas Varghese.