SideCar rolls its car service east to Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago

Cities have been slow to adapt to ride-sharing start-ups and transportation apps, but that’s not stopping companies like SideCar from expanding across the country.

SideCar said Friday that it’s starting up services this weekend in Boston, Brooklyn, and Chicago. The app will connect drivers and passengers every Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. If you download the app, SideCar offers $10 off your first ride.

The nine-month-old start-up is already operating in Austin, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Austin troubles

SideCar recently ran into trouble in Austin, where it started offering rides to SXSW attendees. The Austin City Council put the kibosh on the plan with an ordinance that threatened to impound cars suspected of being rides for hire. SideCar decided to skirt the ordinance by offering free rides and paying its drivers as "brand ambassadors" for the duration of the festival.

SideCar
The SideCar app shows when your driver will arrive.

SideCar then sued the city, claiming that its ridesharing app is not the same as a transportation service for hire and doesn’t violate the law. SideCar CEO Sunil Paul started a Change.org petition to gather support for ride-sharing in Austin. So far, the petition has garnered 3,617 signatures.

SideCar’s competitors, such as Lyft and Uber, have also slowly been expanding to other metropolitan areas. Uber has gone global, adding service in the last two months in Milan, Singapore, and unofficial cars in Lyon, France.

A widespread rollout of ride-sharing services has bigger implications for public transportation agencies, cab companies, and commuters, and could possibly reduce stress on both resources and people. Cities are still figuring out how to regulate the apps and ensure public safety without stifling innovation.

Even San Francisco, considered the country’s tech hub, only recently allowed Lyft and Uber to operate in the city.

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