City Desk

New D.C. Cab-Like Service Could Be Free

If you thought Uber made D.C. regulators' heads spin, just wait for SideCar, a ride-sharing service set to launch in the District sometime in the spring. Unlike Uber or traditional taxi services, anyone can sign up to be a driver for SideCar, and passengers don't even have to pay anything.

SideCar, which is already operating in San Francisco and Seattle, lets ordinary people offer rides as a side business. At the end of the trip, the customer can decide how much to "donate" in exchange for the lift. Passengers can even decide not to pay anything at all, risking a low review from their driver and banishment from the service. That lack of a per-mile rate could cause trouble for the service with the D.C. government, which caused so much controversy over Uber's payment rates.

Another potential concern for cab regulators: licensing. SideCar's driver sign-up page only requires that drivers have a record clean enough to pass the background check, a 4-door car made after 2000, and a "great personality."

SideCar says it has already started recruiting drivers in Washington, and plans to launch in D.C. in the next few months, according to spokeswoman Margaret Ryan.

As for the cab commission, spokesman Neville Waters writes in an email that regulators don't have a problem with SideCar yet, and expects SideCar employees to sit down with the commission before launching.

Sedan picture via Shutterstock

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  • Typical DC BS

    Gee, what could go wrong? If you're stupid enough to drive with someone doing this as a "sideline" or on a lark, you're taking an awfully big risk.

  • the time

    With all respect, these seems like another let's follow Seattle cut and paste jobs, with no consideration for how DC is or is not like those West coast cities, and whether and why this will or will not work in the District.

    Is there a way to tailor this article to reflect the people who actually live here? It's so...generic.

  • Wilhelm Ogle

    This "service" is already available at most grocery stores in the District. In fact, it has been around for many years, despite the harassment from some cab drivers and the police.

  • Chris

    Seems like a smarter form of slugging. This way, if a passenger disappears, the police/loved ones have a record of with whom the passenger made the arrangement, that person's car, and the driver's license and plate number. With slugging, the potential for the unknown is high, although I never hear about anyting going wrong.

  • Jane

    I'm predicting an SVU episode about this in three months tops.

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