There’s something about driving that just feels better with company. The long stretches of endless highway; stop-start traffic jams; sing-alongs and accompaniments; snacks; pitstops. They’re all better with other people. Not to mention the rising cost of gas.
Ridejoy is a mobile app that aims to make ride sharing simple. In partner with its desktop cousin, the app gives American and Canadian citizens the opportunity to connect, either as driver or passenger, in a few taps. I had a chance to speak to Jason Shen, one of the founders of Ridejoy, to get an understanding of where the idea came from and what his goals are for the app.
“The idea is to match friendly drivers with friendly passengers,” he says, acknowledging how disconcerting it can be to get into a car with a complete stranger. To that end, the company has set up many security features such as the ability to upload a scanned photo of your driver’s license, which will be independently verified with Ridejoy for authenticity. Of course, Shen admits, there is always cause for caution when travelling or living with strangers, but Ridejoy is as secure as possible without being intrusive.
Speaking of living with strangers, the parallels to AirBnB are unmistakeable: the custom price per rider, the “warm community” aspect, the Autopilot feature to match drivers and riders, even if they’re not going to the same city. The app supports push notifications for instant connection with a driver for time-sensitive trips, and has beautiful listings of many of the popular cities in North America.
“The mobile app was a great ordeal,” continues Shen. “It’s really hard designing an amazing user experience.” He thinks they’ve gotten there, and I concur. The service is about as simple as possible without being overly cautious. And if there are any problems, he says, someone is available to take care of you nearly 24 hours a day. “I’ve given out my cellphone number to customers before; people have called me directly for help.”
He wants people to feel safe using Ridejoy. Ride sharing is a largely untapped market, and with the rising cost of gas for flights and trains, carpooling works out to be significantly cheaper overall. Rides to Vancouver from Toronto, for example, are available for $235 per passenger, which at first may seem high until you factor in what the cost of a flight would be. You’d also get to meet really interesting people along the way. Like AirBnB, each person has a profile in which you can rate the experience of travelling with them. Linking up to Facebook (600+ connections is a good indication you’re not a weirdo), along with a verified driver’s license and a couple positive reviews can go a long way to proving that you’re a safe person to travel with. Ridejoy takes most of the work out of proving those credentials.
Ridejoy is coming soon to Android phones, too, says Shen, though he won’t give a firm release date. The mobile app for iPhone just got updated to version 1.0 today, and will be updated in the future with badges, flagging and a journaling feature to document your journey.
Shen calls Ridejoy “the most legitimate form of ride share on the planet,” and from what we can see, he might be right.
Download Ridejoy for iPhone