Long-distance carpooling app Tandem arrives at UT

Hana Adeni

In the first week since its launch, long-distance ride-hailing application Tandem had 350 downloads, 22 rides posted and eight rides booked.

The app is primarily used by university students traveling home to major cities such as Dallas or Houston who want a cheaper and safer option than taking the Megabus or using UT ride share Facebook groups.

Users can sign up to be a driver or a rider and reserve a seat in someone’s car. Tandem follows a similar pricing structure as Airbnb, an online marketplace that allows hosts to choose their own prices while being able to reference standard prices. On Tandem, drivers take 90 percent of their profits and the company gets the remaining 10 percent. 

With all ride-hailing apps, long-distance or not, safety is a big concern. Business freshman Katherine Shepherd, who is a Tandem UT ambassador, said a valid UT email address is required to sign up. Users are also given the option to connect to Facebook to check for mutual friends.

“As a female, I really needed the reliability for safety,” Shepherd said.

This is the first version of Tandem to be released, but in the future, Shepherd said they plan to have a real-time tracking option to make sure the car is on the correct route. Finance junior Kevin Sohne has been both a driver and a rider for Tandem and said the app is much safer than using Facebook carpooling groups.

“The administrator for the [Facebook] group can approve anyone — and for Tandem you verify being a college student,” Sohne said. “Who is in charge of the Facebook ride share groups? And for [ride-hailing app] S-Ride, it’s nothing but spam.” 

Business sophomore Graham Warner said the Facebook groups are difficult to navigate. 

“You have to race with other people to respond the fastest, and sometimes you don’t even get to the right location,” Warner said. 

Like any other business, there are competitors. Tandem’s biggest competition is S-Ride, an app known for spamming its users and having high fixed prices. Shepherd said Tandem is a more ethical app created by two Dartmouth students that were inspired after missing their train home.

“It’s by students, for students,” Shepherd said. “We’re not trying to make a profit off everyone. We want to address a need to a problem that’s been created.” 

Both Sohne and Warner said they were satisfied with their experience using Tandem. 

“It’s cool that on the app, you can message people ahead of time,” Warner said. “You both have to accept each other, instead of other apps that just assign you a driver. Since you both have to accept, it feels a lot safer.”

Both students agreed the interface was very easy to navigate even for those unfamiliar with carpooling or ride-hailing apps. 

“It was so easy,” Sohne said. “As soon as you open the app, you can see the rides to request. Either party can cancel a ride, and you can even bookmark it for later. There weren’t any lags.”