It was sometime in May, 2012 and I had traveled to Belfast, Ireland. Upon disembarking from the plane, I went to the nearest taxi stand and dutifully waited for the taxi to come. 5 minutes later a cheerful older gentleman picks me up and we motored across the beautiful green fields and forests of Ireland towards my hotel. It was a nice enough conversation, but something tugged at me that there was something wrong. Continuing our conversation, I realized that the meter had not started and upon some casual glances towards the driver side could not even find a meter! Of course, alarm bells ring and I fast forward to when I leave the taxi and I get a bill for $100 without really knowing if it was an honest ride or a tourist being scammed. Add to this that I did not even know where I was so I could not even gauge if the route was the right one or not. Luckily the ride ended with a reasonable bill and all was good.
Contrast this Ireland experience to one that I happened to take in Scotland from the airport. Sure, it was the normal conversation with the taxi driver but there was a visible map prominently displayed on the taxi drivers phone and not only that…the driver kept on explaining the route to me..that we were going this way, construction was happening here etc. The differences between the two taxi rides was night-and-day…one ride was full on unknowns and the other full of information. Which one did I have a better experience in? You bet…the Scottish taxi hands down.
Humans crave real-time and rapid feedback from their environment in order to feel comfortable. It’s a no brainer that walking down a sunny forest path is a lot more enjoyable than walking down that same path at midnight, with no light and funny noises all around you. This goes back to our roots and how we interact with the world. The more immediate the information about our environment, the better. Take any public transportation mode today and you can see how we are right away making it a not-so-great experience. Waiting in the crowd to get on a plane, waiting at a bus stop, waiting for the taxi, waiting for an elevator…if we know precisely where things are at, we feel better.
Reliability in a Ridesharing environment is even more of a challenge..how do you know when that person will get you? How do you the other person is ready to be picked up? With a couple of interesting technology trends there will be no more waiting, no more wondering, its going to feel a lot better.