Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Catch a l(y)ft in a (zip)car

A blend of ZipCar and Lyft/Uber/Steadyfare - there's cars available to hop into, and you pick up others on your way for a discount.

Photo of Meagen Coburn

Written by

If we all feel like we need a car on-demand to get where we need to go in Grand Rapids (when it's further than a bike or foot, anyway, or maybe you don't want to bike given your attire), and Uber/Lyft/SteadyFare are successful alternatives but you desire autonomy... why not offer a car that you can hop into in your neighborhood, pick up other people on your way to your destination (keeping an eye on their ratings to be sure you could "trust" them) and have it offer you discounts as you pick them up (or you could avoid the discount and keep it to yourself), you get to your destination and there's designated zones in the major districts that these cars are automatically able to park quickly and easily (no parking issue), and the vehicle just keeps moving on and on to the next person.

I have my car to get me to kiddo drop-off in the morning, sometimes to go to lunch, sometimes to go to client meetings, and then to get home. But I live a mile from work. My company pays for parking in a nearby lot for my vehicle - but my car sits idle for 8 hours of the work day. Then I get home and my husband or I pick which car to take to go out for the evening. We're rarely out separately. But we maintain two vehicles because we go to two separate job sites, we pickup baby on different schedules (he picks up earlier than I'm out of work, while I drop off later than he goes in), and one of our vehicles is the towing car for our camper. We used to have scooters that drove 35 mph - perfect in the city. But there's SO FEW designated scooter parking areas downtown that you'd drive all over on those seeking a spot to park - or park illegally. Nevermind that every single time I was out, I would have someone (usually in a truck) roll down a window and yell something inappropriate at me, threaten me to move with their vehicle, or generally intimidate me despite going the speed limit and driving closest to the center of the road exactly as you're supposed to on a motorized scooter.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

I think anyone who lives in the city limits would be the most early adopter of a service like this. Most neighbors I talk to aren't driving too far to get where they're going. I think the habits would have to be broken, but if we could prove that there's cars available in these designated spots, and that it eliminates the need to "find" parking when you get to the area you're going to, it's a no-brainer. Plus, it will save on the hassle of parking at home (at least if you're able to drop owning a vehicle in favor of a trusted resource like this)- which is becoming more and more difficult in the city limits where we don't have garages or driveways and our areas are becoming more popular with commercial activity.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

This is my individual idea, as hashed out between my husband and I's experience living and working in the city limits.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

There would have to be an investment in vehicles up front that would serve as the test market. There's also app development so you can see where a car is located, have a financial transaction, and locate others that might want to be picked up on your route in real time. There would also be some sort of investment in the parking spots in designated zones in various popular regions downtown, the street painting and signage associated with that/those spots and the real estate itself.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Number of users and decline in parking usage in popular regions around the city.


Join the conversation:

Photo of annie young

UberPool is being tested in larger markets and does what you are proposing...Some people like it and others don't. One rider told me it makes a direct route indirect and takes longer because you have to wait on others. Its inconvenient. Additionally, you have no say in who you are riding with. Others say they like it because it makes the ride a little cheaper.

So here is my thought, why not do it Airbnb Carpool Style rather then rideshare style

1. Register your vehicle on MeGo (or whatever you wanted to call it your app)
2. Your car appears on an AIRBNB style map in the area that you are in.
3. The rider who needs a ride could click on your car and see that you are open to rides and what side of town you drive in. (For example, I'm willing to drive downtown and SE Grand Rapids )
4. Riders see your rating and kind of car you drive.
5. Rider puts in pick up and drop off -get his car pool fare and time for pick up.
6. Agrees and request ride
4. You get messages you - Rider needs a ride home at 5. Work downtown, live in the cherry street hill area and it tells you how much you will get.
5. You see the message .. you can do it.
6. You look at the rating of rider
7. You accept the pickup - changing pickup time to 5:15
8. The app sends you a calendar invite with time reminder instructions, and way to communicate with a rider.
9. You Pick up the rider, drop him off and go home.
10. You could accept multiple ride requests (so you might carpool 3 people home today and two tomorrow)

This gives drivers more control on who gets in their car and where they are willing to drive to.

Photo of Meagen Coburn

this is actually precisely what i was thinking! its entirely up to the driver to select a rider or not. i like the idea of registering your own car. i'm certainly open to that. the only thing it doesn't help with is any 'bonus/pre-set' parking when you get somewhere... so your car still sits in that location for however long you're there and adds to parking build-up (which is where a pinch is felt in east hills and west side right now where commercial development is increasing).

Photo of annie young

I sent you a PM yesterday.

View all comments