Startup Ruby Ride brings a new approach to rideshare programs
Rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft are widely facing opposition from taxi companies around the nation, but despite the pushback, companies like the locally born Ruby Ride are continuing to emerge.
Jeff Ericson, CEO and Founder of Ruby Ride, comes from an architect and real estate background. He made the shift to the transportation business after realizing that Phoenix’s sprawling region is uniquely pained with obstacles in helping people get around the city.
“We have data we are collecting that takes solutions from cities like Boston or San Francisco and what works for them,” he said of the transportation solutions for these higher-density locations. “We realized that what we really needed was a short trip management system with day-to-day logistics.”
Ruby Ride sets itself apart from other rideshare services by allowing more flexibility in how often a user might need a car. It’s geared as a solution for people who don’t want a car or are unable to drive.
Instead of enforcing a “pay as you go” model, it offers a tiered subscription service starting at $200 a month with no limitations on trips, or an alternative personalized plan.
Since officially launching January 2014, Ruby Ride provides 100 trips a day with less than four full time cars, but it hopes to expand its fleet to 100 cars.
At the moment, destinations are mainly focused on the Central Phoenix area, but can extend to Old Town Scottsdale, Tempe and the airport.
Ericson said some Ruby Ride customers view them as a car replacement service because of the option of quick, multiple stops.
“Lots of them use us more as a quality-of-life supplement—more destination drops, one-way trips, and diverse locations,” he said. “We work to support both and are trying hard to understand the differences.”
While ride share programs have attracted Millennials who shy away from car culture, Ericson is also considering targeting the retired population who “feel vulnerability in the need to constantly have a car and drive.”
Ruby Ride also wants its riders to feel more comfortable during their trips. Because drivers are paid employees, passengers can request a certain driver and build a relationship them.
The program wants to extend that pleasant experience through their app, where users can schedule pick-ups and drop-offs.
When AZ Tech Beat reviewed Ruby Ride’s app during the beta phase, the app wasn’t working well and had trouble finding some locations. Ericson assures that it now works much more reliably.
“We got our arms around Google’s map issues and have our communications systems really fast to make sure that we get people where they are, and get the distribution really smooth,” he said.
Despite these hiccups, Ericson remains optimistic.
“[It’s] just part of getting on the field and playing. You have to get up and keep going.”
To learn more about Ruby Ride click here.
For AZTB’s past coverage of rideshare programs click here.