For ITS-based ride-sharing, potential users contact a control centre to specify their destination, preferred time of travel, and any special needs. The centre uses algorithms to identify the most appropriate vehicle operating that matches requirements as closely as possible. The vehicle could already be carrying passengers on compatible routes. It may be privately owned (such as a car) with the private owner simply giving a lift to the passenger - or it may be a larger vehicle, perhaps a shared-ownership one. It may be a one-off or a regular journey. The dispatch may be carried out automatically or arranged through a website - perhaps involving an element of social networking.
Often the service will be provided to a specific client group, for instance the elderly, and users will already have registered with the operators or with a service provider who has contracted the operator.
The service will use specific software which is in many cases capable of handling a very large number of different types of enquiry and delivering solutions consecutively.
Implementers should consider the ease of use of the software, its appropriateness for providing transport for particular client groups with very specific requirements - and the extent to which it is scalable. They should also consider the extent to which it allows integration with other Travel Demand Management solutions.
This is an area where web-based and cloud-based technologies are increasingly coming to the fore.
Whilst ride sharing and matching software can offer huge increases in the efficiency of ‘informal’ shared transport services in developing economies, the cost of the required software will be a barrier to implementation. Possibly more important is the extent to which the informal sector can be controlled by the regulator or authority – impacting on the extent to which the software can be used in practise. Institutional issues will need thorough analysis before the introduction of these systems is contemplated.