A whole bunch of new mobility services are emerging in the US. In order to make them a vital part of our multi-modal relevant set, they need to become widely visible in everyday life.
On a recent trip to Austin I took the chance to check out a few new mobility services such as Uber and SideCar. Apparently, I had to skip lfyt, because they only allow new users with Facebook accounts. While Uber was mostly un-reachable due to the high amount of people and traffic during SXSW, SideCar was a bit more accesible, if you had some patience.
The one thing that really stood out about SideCar is that they use huge magnetic name tag signs that can be sticked to the driver and passenger doors. You get to see quite a few cars in Austin that have these signs attached. What happens is that A) you’re getting aware that there is a rideshare service in town B) the whole thing gets way more personal, since you get to know the name of your driver through the nametag. It quickly feels like this sort of transportation is a natural part of mobility in Austin.
On a side note however, SideCar had issues with the local regulatory offices and so the whole rideshare thing in Austin was a mere PR stunt– the rides were free of charge. Which is okay, because it is important for these new service to become known amongst everyday Austinites. The downside of this was, that you did not actually share a ride with someone who was going in your direction anyway, but this was a SideCar designated fleet of drivers that temporarily provided a shuttle service à la Uber.
Other US mobility services such as Zipcar have also understood that visibility for their services e.g. in their designated parking spots are key. Zipcar uses distinct green signage saying “Zipcars live here” which points pedestrians to a car sharing service around them and where to find it, when you need it.