Last weekend I headed up to San Francisco to celebrate my bachelor party with 17 of my closest friends. The weekend also happened to coincide with Bay to Breakers so needless to say it was a pretty fun time. I don’t remember much but since none of us were able to drive, we spent the entire weekend taking Ubers and Lyfts around the city. I talked to pretty much all of our drivers and they were some of the nicest and happiest people I’ve ever met. It probably has something to do with the fact that San Francisco is one of the best cities in the world to be a rideshare driver.
Since the three major rideshare companies originated there (Lyft, Uber & Sidecar) and there are less people with cars than in other cities like Los Angeles or Orange County where I drive, it’s pretty much a rideshare driver’s heaven. I talked to one Uber driver who told me he quit his 95k a year software engineering job a year and a half ago to drive full time. And a lot of the drivers I talked to said that they actually drove for Lyft, Uber and Sidecar – the trifecta!
I’d heard of Sidecar before but never taken a ride since it’s not nearly as popular down here as it is in SF. While we were there, we didn’t actually take a Sidecar but a lot of the Uber and Lyft drivers we rode with had great things to say about the company.
Basics of Sidecar
Sidecar is a rideshare mobile app just like Lyft and Uber except drivers get to decide how much they want to charge and they get to set a pick-up and drop-off radius. You’ve probably heard of Uber’s Surge Pricing and Lyft’s Prime Time but the problem with these services is that you have no control over the pricing. How many times have you logged on to drive because it was Prime Time or Surge and then by the time you got a passenger, it was back down to normal? That can be very frustrating for a driver.
The cool thing about Sidecar is that it lets you decide when to increase and drop the price. They’ll give you recommendations and average rates of drivers around you but ultimately it’s up to you to decide how much you want to charge.
Get Paid for a Superior Experience
I really like this ‘set your own price’ aspect of Sidecar because I drive a nicer car. A lot of my passengers are kind of surprised to get into a Lexus RX 330 SUV, even if it is a 2004 and some have even told me it’s too bad I can’t charge more. Well with Sidecar, I can. And drivers who provide extras like candy, food and waters can do the same.
The economics of it all make sense since if you’re giving out a superior experience compared to another driver, you should be able to charge more. With Lyft, a 5 mile ride is going to cost a passenger the same whether you’re in a minivan or a BMW. But with Sidecar, you can pay more for a nicer ride or less for a hunk of junk.
I think that’s good for passengers and drivers since a passenger who’s just doing a grocery run probably won’t care what type of car they get. But if you’re heading out for a night on the town, you’ll probably want to pick up your date up in a little bit nicer car (and won’t mind paying more for it).
One of the things I don’t like about Lyft and Uber is that you have no idea where your passenger wants to go until you’ve already accepted the ride. There are a lot of times where I’m willing to drive or keep driving but I don’t want to head 20 miles in the wrong direction. Sidecar addresses that very problem with their unique pick up and drop off radius system. As a driver, you can decide what area you want to pick people up in and what area you want to drop them off in. Obviously, the narrower an area you select, the less possible rides you’ll get but it makes for some very strategic ridesharing.
One of the Lyft/Sidecar drivers I talked to in SF told me that he only does airport runs. So when he’s at the airport, he uses Lyft since he knows most people will want to head to the city (about a 30 min/$40 Lyft ride) and when he’s in the city he sets a drop-off radius at the airport. That enables him to go back and forth from the airport on nice long rides earning over $60/hr!
Ok well I’m sold. I’m going to sign up for Sidecar this week and I’ll report back how the process went next week! Stay tuned.
Readers, what do you think about Sidecar? Are you already driving for them or do you think it’s not a good idea to drive for more than one rideshare company?
-The Rideshare Guy