Students launch Web site to help people share cabs

Abha Bhattarai

After three years of riding to and from O’Hare International Airport in taxicabs alone, Krishna Mohan had enough. So Mohan and his friend Anup Shah set out to create a Web site for students to link up with others looking for rides to airports or Chicago bars.

“We were just hanging out one night – it was like 4 or 5 a.m. on a Saturday – and we came up with this idea,” said Mohan, a McCormick junior.

The Web site, www.thecabshare.com, lets registered users create and search for rides, including trips to O’Hare and Midway airports and Chicago bars, such as The Union and Mark II Lounge. The free service requires students to call cab companies on their own.

“We saw the opportunity and seized it,” said Shah, a McCormick junior. “There’s a lot of utility to it because people always want to save money.”

About 60 students have registered since The Cab Share site launched Monday, Mohan said. But was unsure whether any students have used it to organize cab rides.

Samir Kakodkar, a Weinberg senior, said he registered for the service and plans to use the site before he goes this weekend to Cherry Red, a bar in Lincoln Park.

“It’s a nice way to save money and (the Web site) offers an interface where you can see everything visually,” Kakodkar said. “I party a lot on the weekends, and it’s frustrating to find ways to get there and back. I’m hoping this site will help me out.”

Although the site primarily aims to save students money, the creators said it also provides a way for students to network with each other. Users can create profiles with photographs and contact information, such as phone numbers and screen names.

Associated Student Government considered providing an online cab-sharing service three years ago, but the plan “died down because nobody worked on it,” said Helen Wood, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement.

ASG President Patrick Keenan-Devlin said the group is interested in working with The Cab Share.

“We do believe it’s a good service for students,” said Keenan-Devlin, a Music senior. “We are still in the beginning stages of the partnership, but we hope we can work with The Cab Share company to get it out there for students.”

Local cab companies said they support cab-sharing services because they add a social element to otherwise routine rides.

“It’s always fun to travel with others, and this seems to be the most natural progression,” said Dan Quiery, director of service and sales for American Taxi. “It’s an adventure where you can meet new people, and we always like to encourage economic ways of traveling.”

Quiery said he did not worry that cab-sharing services could take away from business.

The Web site offers pointers for the day of the ride, such as “brush, put on deodorant and take a shower” and “use Facebook.com to try to see if you have any connections with the people you are going to ride with.”

In the end, the creators said it is up to students to keep the site going.

“It’s all contingent on students posting,” Shah said. “If nobody starts posting, then the system breaks down.”

Reach Abha Bhattarai at [email protected]