A cab ride to and from the airport, like paying someone to do your laundry, is one of the indulgences New Yorkers tend to allow themselves, even when a cheaper option is available. Even more so during the holidays: you’re about to spend the weekend in a food coma with all your judge-y relatives, so treat yo self!
A recently launched startup called Shairporter might help mitigate the cost. The company, which launched a couple weeks ago and is still in beta, helps users split the cost of a cab or black car to the airport. Founder and CEO Winston Wu said Shairporter has a mobile app in the works that can handle things like neighborhood-to-neighborhood rides, but it’s focusing on traveling to the airport because “that’s where the initial need is.”
Users log onto the site using their Facebook account–a Shairporter log-in is also in the works–to post a ride or grab a seat on one that’s already listed. The cost goes down as the seats fill up. If someone requests to join a trip you’ve posted, say from the East Village to LaGuardia, you can check out his or her profile and then have three options: decline, discuss (via private messages) or accept, in which case your contact information is shared.
After Hurricane Sandy, Shairporter, which was still in private beta, let users access its Facebook page to start organizing ride-shares between neighborhoods and has been ramping up since its launch. “Yesterday, our numbers quadrupled,” Mr. Wu said. “We’re kind of getting on that exponential trajectory.”
Part of the growth is through discussions with NYU and other schools. “It turns out two of the biggest dorms, one’s called Founders and one’s called University, they both have about 900 students living there, and the RAs have been trying to solve this problem using message forums and more remedial tools,” Mr. Wu explained. He’s also been discussing the service with Weinstein Hall and Third Avenue North.
Of course, like many new startup offerings, the utility of the service greatly depends on how many people sign up. Earlier this week, the New York Daily News covered another New York company called Weeels that was offering discounted shared cab rides ($18 rides from Park Slope to LaGuardia Airport and $20 one-way rides from Williamsburg to JFK airport) using an algorithm that combs through ”submitted data to connect travelers leaving at similar times.” However, only 20 riders had signed up using founder David Mahfouda’s Google Doc by the time the article was published.