Within the past few years, it has become abundantly apparent that consumers are eager for alternatives to traditional transport. Personal vehicles are expensive, public transit is inconvenient, and taxis have all sorts of hidden fees, which is why ridesharing businesses have quickly risen to prominence in the transportation industry.
Though Uber and Lyft currently dominate the rideshare market, shifting public attitude, legal policies, and technology might soon cause these rideshare behemoths to fall, making room for smaller ridesharing businesses to grow.
Therefore, now is the time for entrepreneurs to begin building their own ridesharing empires. However, to find success far from the shaky foundations of Uber and Lyft, business owners must consider the following aspects of the emerging ridesharing market:
What People Want From Ridesharing
A few ridesharing entrepreneurs misunderstand why ridesharing is popular. It isn’t merely a fleetingly novel way to get around; in fact, ridesharing has existed, albeit on a smaller scale, for decades, largely in the form of hitchhiking but also in organized urban ridesharing programs. In truth, ridesharing has become so popular because it delivers exactly what other forms of transportation fail to provide: low cost and direct service.
Personal vehicles are convenient, but they cost thousands of dollars every year to use and maintain; conversely, public transit options can be cheap, but commuters must often wait 10 minutes or more for a train or bus to appear, let alone the extra time at each stop. Ridesharing circumvents both issues, providing door-to-door, private service without excessive expense.
Yet, there remains one consideration that neither personal cars nor public transit nor ridesharing has yet to fully address: safety. Personal and public safety both are at risk with any moving vehicle, and more and more ridesharers are becoming concerned about their own welfare.
Cities, too, are beginning to question the safety of such programs, and a handful around the U.S., including Austin and San Antonio, Texas and Eugene, Oregon, have already ousted Uber for its unwillingness to conform to basic safety regulations, such as driver background checks, vehicle inspections, and insurance minimums. Uber remains unwilling to elevate safety to a primary goal for passengers and drivers, which means entrepreneurs willing to comply with basic safety procedures may have the opportunity to overthrow the behemoth of ridesharing and emerging technologies are only improving that opportunity.
How Technology Is Changing Ridesharing
Uber and Lyft are rapidly approaching their ten-year anniversary, and though both companies claim to be devoted to progress, it is rare that successful businesses adapt to changing markets rapidly. Today’s technology particularly the transportation tech promises to be vastly different than tomorrow’s technology, so entrepreneurs with an eye toward the future have an advantage on the ridesharing solutions of the past.
Perhaps most important for the enthusiastic ridesharing entrepreneur, ridesharing apps are easier than ever to develop. Convenient ridesharing platforms, like that from RideCell, speed the development and design process, so entrepreneurs can see their new business hit the streets faster. By lessening the emphasis on app development, entrepreneurs can focus on other aspects of their business including emerging technologies that might give them an edge.
For example, Uber and Lyft are more than willing to accept any driver with any working set of wheels, but an increasing concern for the environment’s welfare is causing many potential passengers to question the soundness of older, less efficient cars. Therefore, a ridesharing business that only commissions drivers with eco-friendly rides, including electric cars, diesel engines, and hybrids, might find a growing market more than willing to abandon Uber and Lyft.
Additionally, many experts believe that autonomous vehicles are not only the future of ridesharing, but that they are potentially the future of transportation as a whole. Safer, more efficient, and potentially more affordable than other transit options, self-driving cars could be the answer to all transportation-related woes. Ridesharing companies willing to integrate autonomous vehicles into their business models will surely see returns when driverless cars begin hitting the streets in a year or two.
Emerging technologies aren’t the only niches entrepreneurs can exploit in the ridesharing business. Catering to unaccompanied, traveling minors, becoming 100 percent disability-friendly, or adding delivery services are features that differ from those provided by Uber and Lyft. The ridesharing market is far from full, and insightful entrepreneurs can do much to find profits in the coming years.