If you’re a young club-goer living in Santa Monica, California and you take a roundtrip taxi to Hollywood (about 12 miles each way) twice a month, you’ll end up paying over $1,600 per year making that trip. That represents 50% of the total amount the average American household spends on healthcare each year.
Why so expensive? Well, cabbies have bills to pay. Their cars exist for the sole purpose of transporting people in exchange for money. If they don’t bring enough in, all the cash goes towards car payments, the cab company, and, depending on the city in which they operate, expensive licensing fees. After that, they may be left with nothing to take home for themselves. Taxis are so pricey because drivers are being crushed under the weight of their operating costs.
Compare that to a hypothetical world where an individual needing a ride would simply get on their smartphone and name their desired location and the amount they are willing to pay. Then, car-owners (literally anyone who owns a car) within the same geographic area could make the decision as to whether or not to accept the offer. If you’re heading to Hollywood anyways, why not let someone occupy your passenger seat for $10? In this scenario, there is literally no marginal cost for adding a passenger. The taxi cab business model simply can’t compete with that.
In this same hypothetical world, if you own a car and are bored with nothing to do on a Friday night, why not check your smartphone to see if anyone nearby needs a ride? You already own your car, so the only marginal cost for you is gas. If it takes a gallon of gas for the round trip from Santa Monica to Hollywood, your marginal cost is $4.60. Anything you receive in excess of that is pure profit.
Think about it. As a poor college student, would you have accepted $20 to drive someone across town? I know I would have. Give five rides in an evening and pay for your biology textbook or a week’s worth of bar tabs.
Within the next few weeks this hypothetical world could become a reality. Zaarly’s proximity based, real-time platform will allow anyone to put a price on anything (my focus in this post is on transportation, but the possibilities are truly endless).
Zaarly can match drivers to riders in mere seconds. No yellow cars with a partition and a meter needed. Peer-to-peer rideshare is not a brand new concept, but the only programs that seem to achieve success are those that involve routes that are known well in advance and are recurring, like work commutes. What sets Zaarly apart is the “real-time” aspect of the platform. Currently, I can go on Craigslist and click the “rideshare” section and request a ride from Santa Monica to Long Beach, but I’d have to create a post and description, click “publish,” and wait for the confirmation email to come through before responses came pouring in (which would come over a three day period from seemingly anonymous users). Zaarly can take a three day process and shorten it to a matter of seconds. I choose where I want to go, when I want to go, and how much I’m willing to pay, and someone nearby will accept, provided the offer was reasonable.
With a taxi or Craigslist, there’s an uneasy feeling of anonymity that riders feel: they have no clue how good or bad previous customers’ experiences were with a given car/driver. With Zaarly, the user-feedback system will provide comfort and allow you to choose a driver who is experienced and trustworthy. Don’t want to accept a ride from someone new to the service? Then don’t. User feedback will make drivers accountable for the experiences they provide.
Zaarly will be faster, closer, and more personal than Craigslist when it comes to the exchange of any good or service (not just rides). Until now, craigslist has provided a nice moat around the space that Zaarly intends to fill, not allowing would-be challengers an opportunity to gain any traction in this realm.
Zaarly has the platform and the firepower necessary to disrupt the taxi cab industry in a way that Craigslist never could. Providing a ride across town is practically unskilled labor requiring only a driver’s license and a car, assets that over 90% of households already have at their disposal. With that kind of supply currently sitting idle, it’s about time that a trip across town became a whole lot cheaper.