Split, the ride-sharing service based in D.C., finds itself in a battle of David and two Goliaths. The smartphone app offers cheap rides by putting commuters with similar routes in the same vehicle. But since Split launched its smartphone app in the nation’s capital a year ago, it’s watched heavyweights Uber and Lyft launch similar services in the D.C. area.
Those established players boast resources that dwarf what Split brings to the table. Uber has over 30,000 active drivers in the D.C. area. Split has just over 100. Uber has raised over $10 billion from investors. For Split, expanding outside the city to the nearby suburb of Arlington is financially problematic because of Virginia’s $100,000 licensing fee for app-based car services. For its first six months Split did not even have an Android version of its app. Only iPhone users could ride Split. Lyft operates in more than 200 U.S. cities. Split operates in one.
Amid challenging odds Split sees a chance to carve out a niche due to its focus on shared rides. And now with the D.C. subway going through a series of closures for repairs, Split sees another opportunity. It will be encouraging its drivers to position themselves near closed Metro stops to attract commuters. Drivers who follow Split’s recommendations receive a financial incentive. For consumers, Split never charges surge pricing.
Of course, such tactics are available to Split’s competitors. When compared with Uber and Lyft, only Split was built from the ground up for shared rides, said Split chief executive Ario Keshani. A company such as Uber has to consider how shared rides impacts its other offerings, such as black cars and UberX.
“We’re not trying to replace everybody else. We want to be a cog in the machine that makes the city move more efficiently, better, in a more green way,” Keshani said. Read more….
• In a battle against heavyweights, Split sees a niche to take advantage of in Washington D.C.