Bid2Ride, a new ride-share comparison app that allows users to place bids on prices for ride-share options, launched its flagship service in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17 despite lacking an application to operate through the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles.
Bid2Ride lets riders set a destination and shows them the average cost of a ride to that location across various apps. Riders then “bid” a price that they want to pay and drivers from different ride-hail apps can choose to accept or reject the bids. If a rider’s bid is not accepted, they can continue to bid or view a list of the cheapest rides to their destination from Uber, Lyft and other local ride-hail apps.
The app launched in various mobile app stores with availability in the District first but plans to expand to other major cities at a future date, following the anticipated approval of its application to operate.
Bid2Ride could help cut costs for Georgetown University students if the bidding system works as promised, according to Ellie Farrell (COL ’22), who uses Uber and Lyft frequently to travel around D.C..
“For college students, it sounds like a great way to save money and take control over the sometimes crazy pricing of these apps,” she said.
The company says that the bidding process ensures riders will pay the least amount of money possible. The app launched with over 1,000 participating D.C. drivers, according to Mashable.
While DFHV has jurisdiction over ride-sharing in the District, Bid2Ride’s application to operate as a digital dispatch service is technically still under review, according to DFHV.
In order to operate a DDS, companies like Bid2Ride must complete an application with DFHV, according to DFHV spokesperson Neville Waters.
“Bid2Ride’s application is still under review by DFHV,” Waters wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Thus, the company does not currently have operating authority.”
Companies applying for a DDS permit must submit an application fee, a surety bond of $250,000 and a link to their website and screenshots showing the method of fare calculation and rates and fees charged, among other documents, according to Waters.
The District continues to back ride-share startups, according to DFHV Agency Director David Do.
“The Bowser Administration supports innovation in the for-hire ride services industry,” Do wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The District is known as a leader in leveraging new technologies and platforms to ensure our residents and visitors have access to safe, accessible and affordable transportation options.”
Ride-share apps have transformed transit in D.C., with ride sharing apps and scooters becoming more and more utilized and taxicabs less so. Skip Scooters resumed operations in D.C. this month after safety concerns about their scooters spontaneously combusting caused District Department of Transportation to suspend Skip’s permit in June. Lime recalled thousands of scooters in 2018 because of similar fire safety concerns.
Capital Bikeshare, whose parent company is Lyft, recalled its electric pedal assist bikes in April after faulty brakes caused riders traveling at high speeds to fall over the front of their handlebars. The bikes are expected to return to D.C. streets at an undisclosed date this fall, according to WTOP.
Bid2Ride has the potential to succeed in a crowded ride-share market, according to Farrell as a potential user of the app, but she is not without her reservations.
“Although it sounds like a great idea, I’d feel pressure to bid higher to ensure a ride, especially if I’m in a rush. Being given a price makes the process less complicated,” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it out, but it would be on casual terms first.”