Two Startups Harness Facebook's Power to Connect Riders to Rides

Social networking site Facebook offers two new ride-share services.

ByABC News
February 11, 2009, 5:59 PM

Sept. 4, 2007 — -- With carpooling in a steady decline despite the highest gas prices ever and record traffic congestion, two new online firms want to revive ride-sharing by piggybacking on social networking sites.

The startup services, through the popular, attack obstacles that have held back ride-sharing programs: the fear of sharing a car with a stranger and reaching the "critical mass" of numbers required to effectively match up people for rides.

The site's core users, college students and recent grads, could turn out to be the perfect demographic, because they tend to care more about cost and the environment.

The firms, and, have created applications that run within Facebook Zimride's is simply called Carpool. Both use Google maps-style geocoding to match up users, who can also browse rides listed in their areas.

The trips could be a daily commute, a short drive to a party or concert or a 400-mile road trip. The programs also divide up costs and calculate carbon emission based on mileage.

One crucial feature is that other people in your Facebook network don't have to be using the ride-sharing application for it to find you a lift. That's because just posting a ride will send it out in the news feed that's broadcast to your network of friends and it's not uncommon for Facebook users to have several hundred friends.

Logan Green, a recent UC Santa Barbara graduate with an interest in transportation issues, started Zimride after making numerous trips to visit his girlfriend in Los Angeles without a car. He used the ride boards on several times and they worked well.

But, he says, "Each time there would be this nervousness ahead of time, wondering, 'Who am I going to get in the car with?' I realized that this isn't going to become mainstream until we solve the issue of knowing something about the person before you commit to riding with them."