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Pittsburgh's latest ride-sharing service lets drivers bid for customers

| Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 10:48 a.m.
Aaron Aupperlee | Tribune-Review
Joshua Freedman (right), CEO and founder of CabbyGo, and Anthony Charles, the Pittsburgh District Manager for CabbyGo.

Pittsburgh's latest ride-sharing service turns getting a ride home from the bar into a bidding war.

CabbyGo, founded by University of Pittsburgh graduate Joshua Freedman, puts a competitive twist on ride-sharing.

When a person requests a ride using the app, drivers have 45 seconds to bid against each other for the ride. Drivers can see other bids. The requester then decides which offer to take based on price, time, driver rating or type of car.

“Driver's bid. Riders win,” Freedman said.

CabbyGo launched in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The company will have to compete with ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft, as well as zTrip, an app-based taxi service in Pittsburgh. Freedman said CabbyGo will offer riders more choices and better value than Lyft and Uber.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Tribune-Review reporter tried to use the CabbyGo app to request a ride from the North Shore to Franktuary in Lawrenceville. No CabbyGo drivers bid on the ride. Lyft offered the ride for $9.72, Uber for $10.12 and zTrip for $9 to $13.

Freedman said CabbyGo has 150 people signed up to drive. Many of the drivers also drive for Uber or Lyft. He'd like to triple the number of drivers in the next 45 days.

Uber, which started in Pittsburgh more than three years ago, has more than 4,000 drivers, according to a company spokesman. Lyft, which has been in Pittsburgh a bit longer than Uber, has thousands of drivers, a company spokeswoman said, saying the company does not give out specific numbers. zTrip, which launched in 2016, has 400 to 450 drivers.

Freedman hopes drivers are drawn to CabbyGo because the bidding system lets them set their prices and pick the rides they want to give. Drivers can stay in their neighborhoods and don't have to worry about giving rides across town. They also keep 90 percent of the fare. Competitors can take anywhere from 15 to 25 percent.

CabbyGo won't increase prices when demand is high like Uber does with “surge” pricing or Lyft with “prime time” pricing, Freedman said. But because drivers bid on rides, the amount drivers bid could increase.

CabbyGo quietly launched in Pittsburgh in 2013 as a way to connect riders to existing taxi cab companies. It later applied for and was given a Transportation Network Company permit from the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission. Wednesday's launch marked CabbyGo's entrance into Pittsburgh's ride-sharing market.

“Pittsburgh is the perfect city. It's a bustling city. It's growing. It's already been exposed to alternative ride-share companies, and people here are techie. They're young and techie,” Freedman said.

Pittsburgh is the first city where CabbyGo has offered its ride-sharing service.

The CabbyGo app is available in the Apple and Google Play app stores. First-time riders will get a $10 credit when they sign up, Freedman said. People who want to drive for CabbyGo can visit http://cabbygo.applytojob.com/ .

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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