Students create airport cab-sharing service for Thanksgiving break

Emily Chin, Reporter

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Northwestern students have a new solution for classmates who need to share cabs to the airport on school breaks.

Four students created a service Saturday called Split that connects students going to the airport at the same time and from the same location on campus.

Students submit a Google Form with their names, numbers and ride preferences. Split will send their contact information to other students who match what they are looking for. Split also lists the prices of every taxi service, so students can easily find the cheapest one.

Mert Yavuz, Robert Ludew, Vivek Magati and Alex Diamond created Split as their group’s final project for their class, Engineering Entrepreneurship. The purpose of the project was for students to develop a business model for a new innovation or a new product, said McCormick Prof. Mark Werwath, who teaches the class.

Yavuz, a McCormick junior, said he wanted to focus on cab sharing because the system in place was very inefficient.

“The benefits of this service are you don’t have to be annoying through Facebook,” he said. “I find that some people don’t like posting on common groups.”

Yavuz also pointed out that for college students on a tight budget, using Split will save money. However, he acknowledged that in order for Split to work, there must be a large enough database so that people actually find connections.

“You might not be matched with someone,” he said. “But the more and more the service gets used, this doesn’t become a problem.”

Yavuz said he hopes eventually all out-of-state NU students going home for break will use the service. He does not have numbers on how many people have signed up so far.

Werwath noted Uber, a personal taxi service, is already using the same idea. They are currently prototyping something similar in San Francisco, he said.

“Uber has it’s own network of users,” he said, “but if Split could somehow leverage a different network, they would be able to compete.”

Right now, Split is just targeting the NU audience, which Werwath thinks will work for them.

“Are you willing to share a cab with a total stranger? Most people are not,” he said. “Are you willing to share a cab with a fellow student? It turns out most people are.”

Werwath said Split is competing not only with Uber, but also AirHop, a service that offers shuttles to the airport during breaks. AirHop allows students to suggest times convenient for shuttle operating times. However, it will not be operating this Thanksgiving break.

“In theory AirHop should be more efficient, but (Split) will be more practical and more convenient,” he said. “You can literally get yourself picked up in front of your dorm room, and you can do it on your own schedule.”

Yavuz said after Thanksgiving he is planning on getting feedback from users and will improve the service based on the responses he gets.

Currently, Split only matches students for rides to the airport. Yavuz said the group is working to expand the service to connect students traveling back to campus after Thanksgiving.

“I think the service itself can only get better from here,” he said.