On the 46th episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Randy, John, and Travis take a look back at 2014. We discuss our top posts of the year, including the renaissance beginning to take place in the Northern Liberties and new transportation options including Uber, Lyft, and Red Bike. We also make some predictions about what’s the come in 2015, including the expansion of Red Bike into other Cincinnati neighborhoods and Northern Kentucky, new residential developments opening in 2015, and new potential uses for the Riverfront Transit Center. Finally, we discuss the new parking meters and expanded enforcement hours that went into effect on January 1st for the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine.
On the 44th episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Randy, Jake, John and Travis continue the conversation (part 1) and talk about Cincinnati’s new ridesharing regulations, the popularity of Red Bike, and the conversion of the Oasis Line into a bike trail instead of a rail corridor. We also discuss what could happen in future phases of The Banks and speculate on what will happpen next in the Brent Spence Bridge saga.
On the 41st episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Jake Mecklenborg tells us about his experiences driving for the ridesharing service Uber. We discuss the types of trips that riders have been making, the best strategy for drivers, the impacts of ridesharing so far, and what other businesses Uber and Lyft could eventually get into.
While Uber and Lyft have been getting a lot of attention lately, following the launch of their services in Cincinnati, they are not the only non-traditional ride sharing services operating locally. The other, of course, is 321-RIDE and has been operating since 2007 primarily as a chauffeur service.
The locally owned and operated company has around 1,100 members presently, but new features, membership options and services are expected to grow that number and make 321-RIDE more competitive in the increasingly congested market.
According to Jon Amster, owner of 321-RIDE, the company’s existing client base is about half corporate and half individuals, and says that they are more of a higher-end service when compared to taxis, Uber and Lyft. He also says that they help those people who are not totally car-free.
“We’re a business that’s set up for a community like Cincinnati and other mid-sized Midwestern cities,” Amster explained. “We don’t have a strong taxi culture here…we have a drive your car to the bar culture, and we understand that.”
The way it works is two workers show up on behalf of 321-RIDE. One of those workers drives the customer home in their car, while the second worker follows them in order to bring both back after dropping off the user.
There are similar such businesses in other markets across North America, including numerous that include only one worker who gets to the customer on a collapsible bike that is stored in the truck until drop-off.
In order to keep up with the changing landscape, 321-RIDE launched a new website, mobile platform and membership options on May 1. Amster says that they are also working with a local developer and database firm to launch a mobile application this fall that will allow for users to geolocate the service and make a reservation in a one- to two-step process.
While the new changes are meant to help continue growth at the company, the University of Cincinnati real estate graduate says that it has not always been smooth sailing.
“We lost $100,000 in the first six months, but eventually paid all of that money back after two years of operation,” Amster said. “We learned from organizations like SCORE and through trial-by-fire, and we’re now a growing business.”
The new model for 321-RIDE allows for customers to sign-up for membership accounts at $8.95 per month, which differs from the previous $200 per year membership option offered. From there, the member’s credit card information is stored so that all ride purchases can be done without an in-car transaction. The average ride fee is around $64, with a minimum charge of $55.
Since 321-RIDE is now a cashless business, it means that gratuity is automatically calculated into the rates.
Amster says that he realizes the more premium service is probably not for everyone, but believes there is a market for ride sharing in Cincinnati at both ends of the spectrum, just as there is a market for steak at both Outback Steakhouse and Morton’s.
As for the new competition from Uber and Lyft, Amster says he welcomes their arrival and believes that they serve different markets.
“I don’t see us as competition,” said Amster. “There are some nights where you’d rather take a cab, but there are some nights where you’d rather have your car home with you.”
There are about 16 to 18 drivers, who operate as contractors, working at any given time for 321-RIDE. Those interested in using the service are able to do so seven nights a week between 9pm and 3am. Daytime and early evening hours are not currently offered, but are being considered as part of expanded operations in the future.
The top news story in March 2014 was the arrival of Uber and Lyft in Cincinnati, as two of UrbanCincy’s top articles were focused on their services and what it means for the taxicab industry. Road and bike infrastructure were also in the news, along with a new historic preservation movement bringing people together to save several key buildings.
In case you missed any of them, here’s a look back at our five most popular stories from last month:
- Uber and Lyft to Soon Enter Cincinnati Market
Two ‘ridesharing’ companies are moving into the Cincinnati market.
- VIDEO: Are ‘Protected Intersections’ the Next Bicycle Infrastructure Innovation?
As Cincinnati works to expand its bicycling infrastructure with bike lanes and cycle tracks, we may need to include this one additional consideration.
- Uber Officials Credit Cincinnati’s Urban Revival, Tech Scene for their Arrival
Uber used geolocation information to learn that there was “pent up demand” for their service in the Cincinnati area.
- Snow Accumulation Highlights Cincinnati’s Over-Engineered Streets through ‘Sneckdowns’
Thanks to the large accumulation of snow on city streets this winter, it was easy to tell where roads are over-engineered.
- Cincinnati Preservation Collective Draws from Different Backgrounds to Save Buildings
A new group is channeling their effort into saving five buildings of historic significance in Cincinnati.