A new app is giving people in the Bay Area the opportunity to offer a seat in their car, and make a little extra cash while they're at it.
Every day Americans log about a billion trips by car (four per person), the vast majority of which are made by one person, sitting alone behind the wheel.
For years anyone who a) doesn't have a car, b) hates driving, c) hates being alone, or d) is burdened by the costs of owning a car and paying for gas, has observed all of the other solo drivers on the road and thought to themselves, gee, there's got to be a better way to organize this. There is just so much redundancy in the system. Some of these people should be able to share a ride, share the costs, and spare the extra cars on the road.
That's what Sunil Paul thought to himself in 1997, one day in need of a ride. "I had been reading about the idea that cell phones would have locational awareness soon," he told me, "and I thought to myself, wow, if my cell phone knows where I am, and there are all these people driving around with no one else in the car, and their cell phones know where they are, then why can't we figure out a better way for me to get home?"
But the time was not right yet -- the technology wasn't quite there, and outside of a few pockets of interest, public sentiment wasn't really there yet either. Concerns about climate change were not as deep, and many people were just okay with the car culture we had been building since at least as far back as World War II.