Hitcher, a rideshare app that enables commuters to connect with other commuters, launched its revamped service on August 8,2014.
The updated version, Hitcher 0.3.0, allows anyone to register with the mobile app as either a driver or a carpooler. Previously, the app only served those affiliated with select firms.
In the updated version, the app matches drivers and riders commuting to and from designated “hitcher zones,” currently consisting of Hapjeong station and Paju Book City (cultural complex devoted to publishing of Korean books in city of Paju). More hitcher zones are said to come based on future demand.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has an extensive and intricate public transportation system. Seventeen subway lines and more than 400 bus lines serve an area of 7,000 square miles. Several transport hubs, however, are plagued by long lines and longer wait times during morning rush hours. Hapjeong station is one of them.
Three bus lines, the 200, 2100 and 2200, serve passengers between Hapjeong Station and Paju. On weekday mornings, the wait time for commuters queueing to go to Paju from Hapjeong station is more than fifteen minutes, while Seoul commuters are used to much shorter times. The situation is exacerbated by a recent legislation that prohibited standing on inter-city buses traveling via highways.
Hitcher aims to help mitigate such problem. Instead of waiting in line, users can ride alongside registered drivers for a faster and easier commute. Riders register by providing their mobile phone or credit card number as payment method. Hitcher charges riders the price set by drivers, and compensates the latter after the joint commute is complete. Prices typically begin from $3, while a ride on the bus is a little over $2.
Hitcher is more than just a carpool platform. Young In Kwon, the CEO of OopsLab, the developer of Hitcher, hopes that the app will thrive as a “social riding service,” in which riders and drivers can select commuting buddies based on shared interests. The social network component comes where users get to display their occupations and hobbies on their profiles. Based on the provided information, riders can choose and reserve a driver of their interests. The result: a not so dreadful commute with a potential new friend.