Ride-brokering service expands reach to Lake Tahoe

Zimride, a ride-sharing service that allows private drivers with open seats in their vehicles to rent them to passengers in need of a lift, said last week it's created a route to link San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.

Zimride got its start on college campuses and with private businesses by hooking up commuters with passengers. Last month the San Francisco-based company created its first public route San Francisco to Los Angeles and the success of that route led to the expansion, co-founder John Zimmer says.

Currently, about 100 drivers are offering between 250 to 300 seats each week on the route to Southern California, Zimmer says. Cost per seat averages between $35 and $40.

"That is the equivalent of six or seven full coach busses of people doing ride-sharing," Zimmer says.

Drivers and passengers find ride-sharing availability by joining the Zimride Web site (zimride.com). Drivers set a fee for the empty seats in their vehicles, but Zimride suggests a fare of $25 to $30 for the Lake Tahoe route.

The service currently is free to drivers and passengers, Zimmer says, with the goal of creating enough ridership through the site to add a surcharge of $3 or so on each fare booked. Rides can start from anywhere in the Bay Area, Zimmer notes, and the new route is a natural fit for the thousands of Bay Area residents that head to Northern California resorts to ski or snowboard.

"We found it important to have start and end point to help people think about how they can use the service," he says. "The destination is what we pre-sell. Lake Tahoe is right about that distance where it is costly and there aren't many alternatives to driving yourself."


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