walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

jitneys and smartphones

R. notes over on FB that jitneys come back whenever there is a public transportation strike. Passengers offer money to cover gas and mileage and hold up signs indicating where they want to go. They behave well and dress well in an effort to convince drivers to stop for them, which drivers are extra motivated to do if that means they get to use the HOV lanes.

I spent a lot of time thinking about jitneys, between when I posted last night and when I read my husband's comment on FB around noon today. And I have to say, I really think there's a huge opportunity here for a smartphone app to match people looking to go from point A to point B leaving after time C and arriving before time D with other people looking to meet the requirements of HOV lanes, carpool only parking and/or recoup their gas and other operating costs on their vehicle. Phones let you communicate, a lot of them have GPS built in and an app could apply any number of matching algorithms, plus supply directions to the driver to locate the passenger-to-be. I imagine a service could be provided to confirm the ID of the driver/passenger and manage checking in when joining up (maybe get photos served up from the DMV). You wouldn't have to have a smartphone to participate, if you could use an ordinary phone or other service to call in with your request, altho the see-a-pic-to-confirm-id feature wouldn't work then. Over time, the service would have some wisdom about routes along which jitney rides were available all the time, so you would know to walk over a couple blocks or whatever to improve your odds of a pickup. And it could arrange things like work-carpools in advance, to coordinate arrive/depart among a larger group, as well, so no one got stranded in an office park (altho once this thing was up and running, having to call a cab occasionally would not be the end of the world if you didn't have to own a car anymore). You could imagine subscribing to the service, or a micropayment system per use via the cellphone billing system, possibly.

Hey, maybe google (they've got the maps, they've got Android) will put this thing together for us. We know they can afford the lawyers to take on the anti-gypsy cab laws, too!
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