What Is a Rideshare or Ride-Hailing?

And why is it so popular?

What Ridesharing Is All About
The story behind rideshare or ride-hailing. Getty Images/Tetra Images

Ridesharing, or as the Associated Press Stylebook refers to as ride-hailing or ride-booking services, is when two or more people share a car trip. Ridesharing is also knows as casual carpooling, van pool, or slug lane.

They usually arrange rideshares for convenience, but the added benefits are burning less gasoline, saving on parking and gas, taking a higher-speed lane on the highway or simply enjoying each other's company.

You may have a routine and formal rideshare every Monday or every workday. Most work commute rideshares consist of family members sharing a vehicle and driving together at the same time.

Or you could arrange a rideshare for a one-off automobile journey.  In this scenario you'd use a service called "real-time ridesharing" hosted by a Transportation Network Company like Uber or Lyft.  But there is no demand for the ride to be "shared" with someone else. 

Why is ridesharing or ride-booking services so popular

Some big urban areas, like Washington D.C. and San Francisco, provide rideshare pickup locations -- known as slug lanes -- where drivers can pick up a stranger while coming in or out of the city. The areas where these rideshare arrangements are most popular are those where highways contain carpool lanes, or HOV lanes, designated for vehicles with a specific minimum number of people, usually two or three.

This gives drivers an added incentive to ferry passengers.

There are usually more people seeking to rideshare in cities with longer rush hours and worse traffic congestion. Not to mention the phenomenon of "extreme commuting," where people journey an hour or more to work every day. That definitely ups the interest in ridesharing.

You can find a rideshare online through Carma, 'Shared Rides" from Sidecar, Uber, Lyft, or or workplace rideshare postings, 

How to behave properly in a rideshare

You may wonder about the etiquette of ridesharing or ride-hailing. Some passengers may offer to pay for tolls or gas as an acknowledgement of the wear and tear on the driver's car, or to say thank you. However However everyone in the car benefits from ride-hailing so no payment is usually exchanged (unless you're using an on-demand ride-booking service).  

If you are the rider don't expect to get behind the wheel as some people are possessive about their vehicles and may not want someone else driving their car, unless it's a very long trip.  Also, the driver usually has control of the temperature, radio, and windows.  

It wouldn't be wise to eat or drink in someone else's car because you never know what could happen.  Wouldn't you feel bad if you spilled something?  

And this might be a no brainer, but there wouldn't be smoking unless the driver allowed it.

Keep these points in mind when planning a rideshare

If you're in a regular ride, you should definitely consider the typical stress points ahead of time. For instance, if people are late in either direction, it can be an inconvenience to the other passengers.

A habit of lateness could get you kicked out of the rideshare.

You'll also want to work out the rules of the road ahead of time. Who will pay for gas? Will the driver rotate? Does everyone have a working vehicle? What's the policy on eating or drinking in the car, playing music or talking on the cell phone? Everyone has a different evening and morning routine, so you'll need to bear in mind personality, style and work predictability when setting these rules. This is not the time to bend the truth in an attempt at being polite -- it's better just to be honest.

Finally, make backup plans and remember that things do happen. If one person gets stuck late at work, how will the carpool accommodate that? What if someone's child gets sick and they need to leave early to pick her up from daycare?

Ridesharing or ride-hailing is a great way to protect the environment and build your community so check it out!

Edited by Elizabeth McGrory