Ride-sharing apps soar during BART strike | KALW

Ride-sharing apps soar during BART strike

Jul 5, 2013

The BART strike left hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters scrambling for a way to work, but some companies found an upside:  ride-sharing apps like Avego and Sidecar all experienced huge bumps in ridership during the strike.

Sidecar, an app that lets people request a ride from the nearest driver, said it gave 40 percent more rides than than the previous Monday, and had twice as many people sign up for the app than usual. The company also had double the usual number of people applying to be drivers, and had been offering more trainings to accommodate them.

“In times of crisis, this is when alternative transportation services like Sidecar are at their best,” Sidecar’s senior vice president Margaret Ryan said Tuesday. “The community comes together, idle assets like empty car seats are utilized and the entire city benefits.”

Meanwhile, ride-share app Avego snagged the domain bartstrike.com, which opens up to the question “Stranded by the BART strike?” They also tweeted at commuters who complained about being stuck. Avego’s Director of Americas Paul Steinberg said on the first day of the BART strike, Avego had 20 times the number of trips than last week.

Steinberg said 60 percent of people who try Avego once will use it repeatedly. This week, the app expanded to help people get across the Bay Bridge into the city, offering spaces on charters buses and -- get this -- a chance for a ride in a helicopter. (This technique is also in play on the East Coast, where taxi app Uber offered $3,000 helicopter rides to the Hamptons for the holiday.)

And after the strike is over, Steinberg anticipates riders will continue to use Avego to get to BART stations-- which is how a lot of people used Avego before the strike.