Thursday, October 13, 2005

Where is matching going?

Rideshare matching, while an important function in most metropolitan areas, isn't seen as all that important by some. Databases are small in most areas. Placement rates are debated. And, over the past few years, additional matching services and capabilities have arrived. Witness Craig's List, erideshare, and more.

It is likely that no matching system in place 15 years ago is in operation today. No vendor of ridematching systems operating then is offering a matching system or service today as far as I know. (This statement is probably true for a shorter time than suggested here.) What may be in place in 5, 10, or 15 years is unknowable but history would tell us there will be high turnover, new services, and faded services.

However, one person matched could mean over 400 vehicle trips eliminated for the following year. The databases can be mined for more results than are typically sought. Spending $200 (or so) in public funds on one placement isn't all that expensive in that light.

Where is the matching function going? Are we going to see lots of small matching systems with capabilities spread even thinner? Are we going to see integration of matching capabilities?

And what of less-than-matchable outcomes? (telecommuting, walking, bicycling, changed work hours, etc.) How should we be treating those in on-line services in the future?

-- Tad

3 comments:

Karen S. said...

I might be a pie in the sky kind of person, but I see ridematching growing in service areas. For instance there are two rideshare programs in the state of Wisconsin. We are joining forces to offer a cost-saving, geographically advantageous intergovernmental program. The vendor we are working with has vended to other cooperative partnerships. I could see this program linking to other urban programs in neighboring states, each managing their own territory. Eventually, there could be one giant database for ridematching anywhere to anywhere. May the best and least expensive vendor win!

Jon said...

It is true that within a region other rideshare matching capabilities are emerging; not only commercial matching systems sponsored by TMA’s but also grassroots online resources such as Craigs List, Google, Yahoo Communities, Blogs, etc. The emergence of these sparsely populated databases providing less that ideal matchlists will be a big turn-off for the first-time users. The lack of positive word-of-mouth advertising is one reason rideshare matching usage will remain a small percent of the general population.

What is needed is a centralized database managed by one regional rideshare agency. The agency may or may not have it own rideshare match system but its main function is maintaining the centralized database; ensuring the records are clean and current and assisting in marketing/outreach. The agency encourages other rideshare system within the region (commercial or grassroots) to use the centralized database. Of course database standards and privacy issues would have to be worked out. The regional agency would underwrite/sponsor the sites that conform.

Then, the same could be done on a wider scheme. The regional agency databases could tie together. That would serve areas on the fringe, or between agencies, and give them best matching capabilities. Or it could serve long-distance matching.

--Jon

The Jack said...
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