I walk out of my apartment in Palms and don’t get in my car to go to the dentist’s office. Instead, as I walk toward Sepulveda and Venice Avenues, I pulls out my PDA and enter my location and the address of my destination in Sherman Oaks.
At the same time, Ginger Tompkins, a woman I’ve never met, is driving to meet friends in Sherman Oaks. She enters her destination into a monitor in her car. As she drives up Venice Blvd., her GPS coordinates are transmitted to a database and a navigation system calculates her route. A moment later, I receive notification of a match. Ginger pulls up at a designated pick-up point, I hop in, and moments later we are heading for the freeway. Since she has a passenger, Ginger slides into the HOV lane, so we get there fast, and I don’t even have to find parking!
As we say goodbye, rideshare credits are automatically debited from my account and credited to Ginger’s. As I wait for the dentist, I receive a reminder message to rate the transaction. I check the box and enter, “Good experience.”
Ever since I rode in a Melbourne cab, and realized that the entire fleet was tracked at a central location by GPS, I’ve been thinking about possible ways that might apply to Los Angeles, where every time I drive anywhere, I’m left thinking, “How is it possible that no matter where I go, or when I go there, all these people are going there too?” And wondering why the heck we each have to be going the same place all alone, each surrounded by our own two thousand pounds of gas consuming, pollution emitting metal, plastic and glass?
Then, the other day, waiting for my phone ot be repaired at the sprint store, I saw a brochure for phones with GPS systems…you can look at a map on your screen and see little dots where all your friends are. This was it! Surely by combining these technologies, a real-time rideshare system could be right around the corner…if only someone would think of it!