"It's information technology," said founder David Mahfouda.
"It's figuring out which passengers can share, how to communicate that they can do that, and how to incentivize them."
A onetime performance artist who started a moving cooperative, Very Polite Movers
, to help people schlep their belongings around the city, Mr. Mahfouda
has focused for years on encouraging people to share resources.
He started BandWagon in 2011 with $212,000 in grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency and an additional $200,000 in money from angels, friends and family.
Ensconced at NYU-Poly's clean-tech ACRE incubator, BandWagon
has just two employees and a lot of Poly interns.
looking for more investor money-he made a pitch Tuesday to New York Angels-and additional grants from NYSERDA's Cleaner Greener Communities.
He tested his sense that people would be motivated to share rides by trying to hand out dollar bills to travelers at the head of the taxi line at Penn Station if they would stand aside for a few minutes and not take the next cab.
No one took the offer, even when he
raised the ante to $5 and $20.
"When you're waiting in line, all you want to do is get in front of the line," he
People willing to share a cab from LaGuardia enter their destination into BandWagon
's mobile app, and their request appears on a screen at the head of a HOP-high-occupancy passenger-lane.
When there's a match, the two-or three-passengers get the next cab, alternating with the single riders' line.
For now, passengers simply split the fare, but BandWagon
is working with the TLC
to be able to offer a premium to cabdrivers.
can halve the line at LaGuardia, which can stretch to 100 people.
"It's a demand-management strategy, and it's most effective when the airport runs out of taxis," he
"The software makes it economical," Mr. Mahfouda
's edge is that it's cheaper-and greener.