The Anti-Uber Ridesharing App Just Scored Its First Big Win

Bandwagon is partnering with LaGuardia Airport to help passengers carpool.

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May 22 2015, 10:49pm

Image: Grant Wickes/Flickr

Taxi lines are about to get shorter at New York City's LaGuardia airport, thanks to a new ridesharing technology that actually allows users to share rides.

Bandwagon is a Brooklyn-based ridesharing startup that lets users in crowded areas like airports as well as conventions and other events to match with others in the area who are headed to the same place and share rides.

Unlike carpooling services recently launched by Uber and Lyft, UberPOOL and Lyft Line, Bandwagon sources its rides from existing yellow cabs rather than contracted vehicles.

"We optimize where there is low supply and high demand by effectively selling empty seats in the existing taxi supply," a spokesperson from Bandwagon told Motherboard. "This efficiency could apply to low supply periods like shift change in NYC, emergencies, subway service suspension, concerts, sports stadiums, other transportation hubs etc."

The startup got the go-ahead from Port Authority, the organization that manages transportation infrastructure in the New York City area, to test the app at LaGuardia airport on peak travel days starting Thursday. Uber and Lyft do not appear to have comparable partnerships, and the services have even been banned from doing pickups at some airports, including LAX and Chicago O'Hare. (Lyft said it has reached ridesharing agreements with eight different airports that allow drop offs and pickups from its drivers. Uber did not immediately respond to request for comment.)

"Partnering in this program will help increase taxi availability for our customers," LaGuardia Airport General Manager Lysa Scully said in a statement. "Additionally, the Port Authority is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and this is an eco­friendly transportation option in line with our sustainability goals."

The service, which is already in use at event venues in Las Vegas and Boston, is giving yellow cabs the ability to compete with services like Uber, which is quickly edging out traditional taxis in places like New York.

Bandwagon was founded in 2009 but has not succeeded in getting the traction that Lyft and Uber have. If taxi sharing at LaGuardia succeeds, however, Bandwagon hopes to expand to JFK and Newark airports as well.

Disclosure: Motherboard editor-at-large Alex Pasternack does work for Bandwagon, but had to involvement in the reporting or editing of this story.