Taking Super Shuttle to the airport is fine by me. I can make a reservation by selecting the pick-up time and I may even meet interesting people on the way to the airport. However, it is a pain for taking Super Shuttle from the airport. Why? This is because drivers often drive around the airport (up to) 3 times to pick up more potential passengers. This form of fishing expedition is inefficient: drivers spend too much time finding passengers, and the passenger waste too much time in the van seeing the airport terminals multiple times. Not only is this process inefficient, it can cause a downward spiral. As fewer passengers take Super Shuttle from the airport, Super Shuttle drivers earn less when the backhaul from the airport is half-empty. What can be done?
I think there is something Super Shuttle can learn from Didi: the largest on-demand ride service platforms in the world, serving more than 300 cities in China. In addition to the “Uber-like” taxi hailing services, Didi has launched a new service called “Hitch” in 2015 (http://www.xiaojukeji.com/en/car_mate.html). Didi’s Hitch service “matches” drivers and passengers in real time who share similar routes. Not only does it allow the drivers to make money to pay for their fuel and toll cost, it also gives them the opportunities to make friends with passengers during their rides. By May of 2016, Didi Hitch service was offered in over 300 cities with over 3 million registered drivers.
While the Didi Hitch service can threaten the underlying model of Super Shuttle. If you can’t beat them, join them. Super Shuttle should leverage mobile technologies that connect drivers and passengers in real time at the airport like Didi’s Hitch service. This way, drivers can cast a wider net to and from the airport to pick up more passengers without wasting everyone’s time.
More importantly, Super Shuttle can provide superb service. Let’s hitch!