Web site aims to help riders share a cab from Sea-Tac
A new Web site, ridepenguin.com, makes it possible to see if other cab riders from their neighborhoods are seeking to share a cab from Sea-Tac airport.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Share a cab at Sea-TacTo find a cab share at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, go to www.ridepenguin.com.
Northwest Travel Guides
You arrive at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and want to catch a cab to your home in Green Lake. You either pay the 40-plus bucks to get there or you pick up your iPhone and click on ridepenguin.com.
You'll be taken to a Web site where other cab riders at the airport have downloaded their travel destinations. Some are also heading to Green Lake or a nearby neighborhood. Why not share a cab?
That's the theory behind the new Web site designed by Ben Eidelson and Jason Prado of Seattle.
"This is a little experiment to see if it works," said Eidelson, a researcher at Microsoft who launched his Penguin Web site last week. "Cabs cost a lot of money. If you can get it down to $13, it's more reasonable for people to take cabs."
Eidelson and Prado, who met while students at Stanford University, launched the free service in Seattle, but envision expanding it to other airports.
"It's important to see if it works in Seattle first," Eidelson said.
Stita Taxi has the exclusive right to pick up passengers at Sea-Tac. Spokeswoman Sheila Stickel said her company has no problem with cab sharing.
"If people want to be creative and save money and be more green, we're absolutely OK with that," she said. "Things like this are obviously great ideas for folks who want to save money and meet people in their neighborhood."
She said she didn't expect Penguin would have a profound affect on Stita's business.
"As people have mobile phones, the airport was an obvious place to start," said Eidelson, 21, who said it was a coincidence that he launched his Web site at the same time Sound Transit began light-rail service to the airport.
"I'm a big fan of light rail," said the Capitol Hill resident. "But people still take cabs. This is a little experiment to see if it works." He also said it will not only save money but reduce car emissions.
He said if people click into his Penguin Web site and can't find a ride to a certain neighborhood, they could broadcast their destination and see if anyone responds. It might mean people are at the airport longer than usual, Eidelson said, but it might be worth their while.
One issue, he said, is privacy. Some people don't want their phone numbers broadcast to strangers. So he and Prado devised a way to mask the numbers: The Web site will text the passengers to let them know a ride share is available and will set up a time to meet at the cab stand.
The message will give a first name and last initial, but if the riders want to offer more information, such as what color clothes they're wearing of the color of their suitcase, that can be texted as well.
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.