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With part-time and flexible jobs on the rise, carsharing and ridesharing are fast becoming popular options for those who want to get around highly-urbanized communities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley with less hassle and on-demand service. While the two may be similar (both use privately-registered vehicles), there are a few differences that set those two popular mobility modes apart.

Carsharing

These include the likes of City Car Share and Zipcar, in which these allow drivers to rent out cars outright for a day (similar to a rental car service). The main differences between a traditional rent-a-car service (like Avis, Hertz, and Alamo) and carsharing are:

  • These vehicles can be rented by the hour or by the day as opposed to having a set amount of time found in a traditional rental car service
  • You can request any car you want using a mobile device and pick it up at a neighborhood garage rather than driving all the way to and from a rental car firm (fees are more expensive when those come out from airport locations)
  • These can be picked up and dropped off at designated parking lots with ease (e.g. parking garages near major commercial centers, community garages) — just make sure to remember the keys!
  • Most of all, these vehicles are owned by individuals who want to earn extra income through allowing others to rent out their vehicles so that they can drive less while keeping their day (or night) jobs. In contrast, traditional rental car services are owned by the company, in which a customer must sign multiple forms at a physical office to rent a vehicle.

Ridesharing

In contrast to carsharing where you will rent a car outright using your mobile device, ridesharing is more similar to a conventional taxi service. However, several differences can be made between regular taxis and ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber:

  • Despite being on demand, these don’t line up on taxi stands; instead, you choose where to be picked up, in which a computerized network of drivers will be located, and a driver closest to the area can pick up the passenger/s.
  • While its fares may be similar to a conventional taxicab, these don’t have actual meters. Instead, the apps determine an estimated fare based on distance (prior to boarding), in which the fare fluctuates based on predicted demand, and payment is done by credit or debit card instead of cash. Both Lyft and Uber also accept Paypal as a payment option, allowing commuters to pay wirelessly.
  • You can choose from either regular service, carpool (you can have up to 2 people per car, in which you get in with another person heading to a similar destination as you do), or premium service (e.g. Black Cab service where you get a driver that can get you to your destination faster for a slightly higher fee than regular service).
  • With this service, instead of allowing the driver (and/or passenger) to choose whichever route is quickest, a built-in map that comes along with the ridesharing app is used to direct drivers to use specified roads. This may be advantageous for people who occasionally go to their destinations, but, it can end up being a circuitous route for those who already know where they want to go.
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