Innovations That Matter

In Seattle, real-time ride-sharing with rewards for participants


Numerous ride-sharing programs have graced our virtual pages in recent years, including examples such as Ridekicks that reward participants for sharing. What sets Seattle’s go520 program apart, however, is that rides need not be arranged in advance; rather, they can be shared in real-time. Launched late last month by transportation technology firm Avego, the go520 program is currently being tested as a way to reduce congestion on Seattle’s busy SR 520 highway. Through the state-funded pilot, 250 drivers with GPS-enabled iPhones can now offer the empty seats in their vehicles to 750 riders along the SR 520 highway, in real-time, as they travel. Passengers and drivers are matched up through an easy-to-use system using drivers’ iPhones — equipped with the free Avego ride-sharing app — and riders’ mobile devices. Once a match is made, Avego manages the journey from pick-up to drop-off, providing real-time status updates, automated security features, and electronic micro-payments that allow riders and drivers to share the cost of the journey. Drivers who participate in the program 20 or more times each month are rewarded with a monthly USD 30 gas card along with travel reimbursements. Riders, meanwhile, receive up to USD 30 per month in Avego credit to use towards real-time ride-sharing journeys. Then, too, there are the speedier commutes thanks to participants’ ability to use the highway’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV) ramps and lanes. Avego’s real-time ride-sharing technology is already used by thousands of commuters in more than 65 countries around the world, the company says. A video on YouTube demonstrates the concept in action. Cities around the globe: one to test out as a complement to your own public transportation? (Related: City dwellers enlisted & rewarded for delivering DHL packagesIn New Delhi, carpooling system rewards members for giving rides.) Spotted by: R.P.



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