There’s no shortage of ways to get around San Francisco: Uber, Lyft, SideCar, taxis and Muni; and if you’re like me, you’ve used all of them and also bike around town a lot. And now there’s Hitch, a new on-demand ride-sharing app that hopes to compete on price by using a smart logistics engine to maximize the number of passengers it can get in a car.
The Hitch app isn’t that different from Uber or Lyft in that you open the app to request a ride and a car comes to pick you up. But Hitch differentiates itself from the rest of the pack by making more efficient use of all the seats in a car, which lowers the cost for users when compared to other services out there.
The team has accomplished this by creating a logistics engine built around picking up multiple passengers and dropping them off at different points along a route. So if you request a ride, you might be the first person to be picked up along a route, or someone else might be picked up first.
When you request a ride, rather than telling the app where to pick you up, you tell it where to drop you off. (The app uses GPS to determine your starting point.) You can also tell it how many passengers will be riding with you, so that the app knows how many seats your party will need. And it will give you a cost estimate up front.
If another passenger has requested a ride at the same time nearby or along the way, the app creates a route based on start and end points for both of you. And it allows passengers sharing a ride to learn more about one another by showing each other’s mutual Facebook friends and likes to give them something to talk about.
At the end of the ride, passengers can rate their driver and each other. That data gives Hitch a better idea of which riders would be best suited to ride with others. It also allows the community to police itself for bad behavior.
Ultimately, it might take a bit longer to get where you’re going. And you’ll have to share the car with someone else. But you’ll pay less per ride than if you were by yourself.
Like other transportation apps, Hitch conducts criminal and driver background checks, and has a $1 million commercial insurance policy for when passengers are in the car.
Hitch was founded by the guys who built the Corral Rides app last summer, which sought to show available rides from multiple different local transit providers. That app scraped data from ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft and SideCar, while also showing public transportation times.
It didn’t take long before Corral’s access was shut down by those other services. But founders Snir Kodesh and Noam Szpiro learned a lot about traffic and movement patterns during that time and have applied some of that learning to their own endeavor. Ultimately, though, the company will rely on its own ride data to improve the logistics of the service as time goes on.
The service is still limited to certain times of day, as it’s concentrating its efforts on getting people home from work during their evening commutes or getting them home after hanging out at a bar in the evening or on the weekends.
Hitch is currently available in San Francisco Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.; Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.