US news – Carpool arrives in Los Angeles

US news – Carpool arrives in Los Angeles


I am taking you across the Atlantic Ocean,
if online carpool solutions are very popular in France, it’s interesting to notice that
in the US it is still completely unknown. But thanks to a team of “Frenchies” based
in Los Angeles, this could change. Claude Budin-Juteau, our correspondent there
met the founders of a startup that plans on conquering the US market. Take a look. Tuesday morning in downtown Los Angeles. It’s the week of Cleantech Open, a conference
focusing on green and sustainable technologies. And among the numerous exhibitors, there is
RideSVP, a small startup with a huge potential in the US, and of which the co-founder is
French, Hafidha Benyahia. RideSVP is a collaborative carpool platform,
where we connect people who travel together from one city to another. That’s with her partner, that Hafidha created
this platform, inspired from a system existing in France and more than 20 countries, answering
a true need in the US. Indeed, if Uber and its competitor Lyft show
great success in America, it is a rideshare system conceived essentially for inside the
cities. RideSVP is different in a sense that we focus
on long distance trips, for people who don’t need a car, for whom environment matters,
and our users are people like you and I who don’t do it as a gig or to make money, who
would do it anyway, and who pool their resources. Pool resources and make energy savings, it’s
one of the main arguments for RideSVP, a system that already draws interest from beta users
like Romain, a French living in LA and who is testing the application. It is a very good system which is not developed
enough in California, they have developed ridesharing platforms like Uber and Lyft,
but unfortunately carpooling platforms haven’t been launched yet. And that’s the hurdle Hafidha is facing:
overcome the defiance towards carpooling that the US market has shown so far. Several reasons explain that. The car culture in America is quite different,
America is a lot more isolated than a lot of other countries, countries in Europe are
more communal, like the French are more collectively and more socially open to working with each
other and sharing with each other from what I perceive than Americans are. Having your own vehicle to get from point
A to point B is more I think culturally indicative of American transportation. Public transportation is big in urban areas
but not necessarily in suburban areas so you can see that people I think have gotten used
to having their own vehicle. Another difficulty for carpool in America
is related to geography. The country is very big, and the cities are
also very spread out. We can see for example in Los Angeles that
there is not necessarily a “city center” and outskirts. There are several clusterings where it can be
hard for people to meet each other or to determine which route to take for long distance trips
can also be complicated. The US legal system that is very finicky also
complicates the insurance policies, that’s why RideSVP focuses on California first, a
US state more inclined towards innovation and environment protection. Future will tell us if this team of French
will manage to introduce long distance carpool in the US. Thank you very much Claude, please keep us
informed of this startup’s evolution.

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