News & Media

When Ride Sharing is a Sham - March 30, 2015

Remember when "sharing" meant giving your friend a half of your sandwich or letting them play with your toys? Perhaps, you had some extra tomatoes in your garden so you took them over to your neighbour to enjoy. How about when you share your time as a volunteer or share your feelings?

In all of these situations, there was no money involved. No one gained financially. It was simply the true meaning of sharing - an unselfish act of giving. There are no strings attached. You share because you want to help someone. At least, thats what sharing used to mean.

Today, the "Sharing Economy" encompasses everything from swapping houses to shared ownership, trading used goods, recycling, and raising funds. Its a noble concept that promotes better use of resources for the betterment of all mankind.

But somewhere along the way, the term "sharing" has been twisted to disguise the real purpose of many alternative business models - making money. No matter how you look at it, renting your cottage for the summer is not "sharing". Neither is renting your tools, your car, your apartment, or any other number of materialistic possessions or services.

That brings us all to "ride sharing". If you're part of a car pool where each of you takes a turn driving others to a destination you were already going to, thats "ride sharing". If you're part of a cooperative who takes turns using a communal vehicle, thats "ride sharing". But if you're using an app on your smart phone to locate a driver and car-for-hire to take you to a specific destination for a fee, thats a taxi-cab ride.

Thats when "ride sharing" is a sham. Its seemingly a smoke and mirrors business model that conceals itself behind the noble cause of a real "sharing economy". So-called ride sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber seem to wrap themselves up with a sharing concept thats right up there with blue box recycling while earning millions and millions of dollars doing so.

In reality, you're not sharing anything. Its no different than placing a cottage online and receiving money for doing so once the deal is made. Thats "renting" not "sharing". But you must admit, "sharing" has such a nice ring to it. Its more in line with "saving the planet" than "capitalistic gain". But then again, thats exactly why the term "ride sharing" is misused.