“Not Just a Taxi”? For-Profit Ridesharing, Driver Strategies, and VMT
Donald N. Anderson
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Donald N. Anderson: Southwest University of Visual Arts
No yw6nx, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science
The spread of GPS-based location services using smartphone applications has led to the rapid growth of new startups offering smartphone-enabled dispatch service for taxicabs, limousines, and ridesharing vehicles. This change in communicative technology has been accompanied by the creation of new categories of car service, particularly as drivers of limousines and private vehicles use the apps to provide on-demand service of a kind previously reserved for taxicabs. One of the most controversial new models of car service is for-profit ridesharing, which combines the for-profit model of taxi service with the overall traffic reduction goals of ridesharing. A preliminary attempt is here made at understanding how for-profit ridesharing compares to traditional taxicab and ridesharing models. Ethnographic interviews are drawn on to illustrate the range of motivations and strategies used by for-profit ridesharing drivers in San Francisco, California as they make use of the service. A range of driver strategies is identified, ranging from incidental, to part-time, to full-time driving. This makes possible a provisional account of the potential ecological impacts of the spread of this model of car service, based on the concept of taxicab efficiency, conceived as the ratio of shared vs. unshared miles driven.
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