The beginner's guide to ride sharing in the UK
If you are using any form of private-hire to get around, we have good and bad news for you. The good news is that taxi sharing platforms are gaining popularity and grow in numbers. The bad news is that is you are not currently using any of them, you are paying much more than you should.
When to use it
There are use cases that literally beg for sharing and others where its advantages are much more difficult to obtain if at all.
To know when to go for a shared ride makes you smarter about your planning as well as you save real money.
All right, it may well be obvious. Let's quickly revisit the reasons why it is a no-brainer to go for a shared taxi ride when going to an airport.
- Many people heading to the same direction
- Groups of people want to arrive at roughly the same time
- People often carry heavy luggage
- Often flights depart at odd hours either very early or late in the night.
Given all this, and the fact that taxis are always busy around airports reveals the fact that many rides could easily be joined. If you call a taxi company to get a car while 15 other people also done so only to catch the same flight as you are taking, that means that 15 cars go to the airport from somewhere in the city.
Technically this many people with all their luggage could fit in 4 cars and overall pay one quarter of what they have done. Using a shared taxi each could save over 70% on their rides!
Are there other scenarios where many people go to or from the same place? Sure there is!
What about a football game or a concert? Parking is an absolute nightmare around huge events not to mention that not being allowed to drink is rather a big deal when enjoying the game or show. This is why many people call taxis to get there and then to get home.
The simplest form of taxi share comes naturally. Friends take one multi-stop ride to all be dropped home after the event. It is cool, but what if you are alone or not enough in number to fill a car? If you go with your best mate, you still could save 30-50% on your ride if the empty seats were somehow sold to those heading to roughly the same direction as you do. Can you see how shared taxi rides can benefit you massively? We'll talk about the solution later. Let's see the third most common scenario where you might consider a shared ride next time.
There are many attractions in the UK that are not quite well covered by public transport options, making it very difficult for those wanting to visit and don't drive.
What if then it was possible to organise an all custom day trip visiting even multiple remote attractions on a single day? Well, this is possible and recommended by using a long-distance shared taxi ride. Pre booking must be a prerequisite which we'll talk about a little later.
When not to use it
There are times however when the shared model simply won't work or is unlikely to save you a penny or making your life any easier. Let's take a look at these.
Had a pint already and you should drive someone to the hospital rather quickly? Well, call a taxi! It will show up in 5 minutes, you pay whatever fee you have to and problem solved. No room for ride-sharing and fancy features here.
The other much less obvious case is on-demand taxi. The why is much more down to earth than with an urgent ride. There is simply much less chance of finding someone to share your ride with when it needs to happen at the moment's notice.
Not all ride sharing platforms and services are created equal. The ones offering on-demand service and sharing option on the side are most likely only work in big cities like London and only in peak hours.
Would you alter your pick up time by 20 minutes if you've discovered that there is a perfectly suitable ride available for you to join in? Most people certainly would if they were aware of it. This unfortunately requires in advance planning that is the opposite of instant ride hailing.
When there is a convenient public transport alternative
If there is a bus stop at your front door, a bus shows up in every 15 minutes going where you want to go, consider yourself a lucky person! If that's the case, let us rephrase what you already know: use bus instead of anything that costs you more than a day ticket.
On demand and share
Let's do a quick recap of what is the difference between an on demand shared ride and a pre booked one. It turns out that the two are actually quite distinct concepts.
When wanting to share your ride or join in one with an on-demand service, the system has a much more difficult job finding a suitable ride for you.
The reason is simple: those who will be on the move in just 15-20 minutes are not in the system yet! If there is no information available about their journey, they are invisible. Those already on the road are moving quite quickly therefore parsing your position as a possible stop has a very limited time span. To make it work, plenty of ongoing journeys are required. It takes large numbers of people.
This is why the biggest players in the on-demand shared taxi field are focusing on the biggest cities. Not the best news for you if you happen to live anywhere else than London Zone 1 or 2.
Pre book and share
Booking in advance is much more suited for sharing. The reason for this is, that it allows more time for people to find the rides and go through the join process. It takes a few steps like adding extra stops, sending out a join request, payment and confirmation. Even though it takes only a few minutes with us at Share&Ride, it is long enough to make it difficult if rides were on-demand.
How to split the price
When you and your friends decide to share a taxi ride, price splitting happens naturally. What if people who are sharing a trip, don't know each other and don't want or can spend time on trying to manually split the fare among themselves? Also what happens if more and more people join in later?
We have had plenty of discussions and experiments. We genuinely believe to have found a brilliant solution! This is what we'd like to give you a quick overview on, so you understand how easy it actually is to share a taxi ride. It will save you plenty of money once you make it a habit to use it regularly.
Pay upfront and get back as people join
You have the option to book a ride as with any other company of similar profile. You can then publicly offer your ride to people to join in unlike anywhere else. :) With this option, once someone joins, the overall price is recalculated and as the fare splits between the people. The result is, you get the difference back. This is all automatic. All you'll notice is receiving money back straight to your card without needing to do anything for it.
What about return journeys?
So let's recap: You can book in advance and you can share. The cars need to get back somehow, so wouldn't it make sense to publish the return journey as an available ride? If you say yes, you are not alone. We asked our customers and an overwhelming 89.5% said they would appreciate if they could see some benefit on return journeys even if it requires some extra effort.
In this case it means to share it on their social media channels and groups. If the return journey has at least one passenger, the host of the original ride gets a hefty 20% back. This is just our way to show appreciation.
Ride sharing is still in its infancy. The challenge is to accept that even though there aren't many players around, they all do it quite differently. The good news is that they all share the principle and most of the benefits!
Operating better utilised vehicles saves emission gases, reduces congestion levels and genuinely provides the same service for significantly cheaper than the model we all know as taxi.
Once you have found a taxi sharing company that operates in your area and It still takes some learning to take full advantage of the benefits it provides. Planning ahead and booking in advance are the main points how a sharing option is different from an on-demand ride hailing service. These are not interchangeable and generally doing quite different things. Keep in mind though, that if you find yourself in one of the situations where taxi-sharing works brilliantly, you should definitely take it into account as an option.