And then there were two in Tacoma – two rideshare services.
First came Lyft, and now add Sidecar to the mix. A third service, Uber, has only hinted that it might come to town.
Tacoma attorney and blogger Erik Bjornson recently reported on social media that he had secured a ride from a Sidecar driver going from Tacoma’s Proctor District to Sixth Avenue.
“I downloaded the app,” Bjornson said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a novelty for me. I’m involved in parking issues. It was a pure novelty thing. I wanted to do it. Tacoma has always been left out of it.”
Rachael King, Sidecar national social media manager, replied to an inquiry by email on Wednesday confirming, “Our service tends to be more concentrated in the Seattle area, but we do have some drivers that live in and serve Tacoma, especially on their way to/from work. It is not yet one of our regularly served areas; riders would be able to get a ride from Seattle to Tacoma much more easily than the reverse.”
Rideshare operations differ from taxi services, but both provide much the same service. And where taxi companies are regulated by local governments, rideshare services in Tacoma are not.
Rides with a rideshare service are typically secured through a social media app. A potential customer will check to see if a driver is available, and if so, a ride is arranged for a set price. The drivers are not necessarily professionals, as licensed taxi drivers would be. Rideshare drivers use their personal vehicles to provide the service.
A Tacoma taxi services recently contacted by The News Tribune complained about the rideshare phenomenon, although city officials have not imposed any regulations on the new industry.
The City of Tacoma licenses some 115 cabs both in the city and throughout Pierce County.
A spokeswoman for Lyft, the first rideshare service operating hereabouts, recently explained that her company operates from Lakewood and Tacoma to locations including Seattle, Poulsbo and Shoreline.
“We have been seeing people asking about Lyft in these areas and thought since people are traveling in these cities it makes sense to expand the coverage area,” she said.
“It’s an important option,” said Bjornson, the Tacoma attorney and service client. “I think it will be an important service for Tacoma. I am pleased that our city council has been supportive. I’ve been waiting for at least a year for them to come in.”