Ride-hailing vs. ridesharing vs. carpooling: what’s the difference?

With the rise of shared mobility, many of us are familiar with the terms ridesharing and ride-hailing. These terms are used interchangeably and dominate conversations about shared mobility, to the point where individuals, insurance companies, and regulatory agencies now equate both ridesharing and ride-hailing with transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft.

Where does carpooling come into the mix? While ridesharing sounds like it would encapsulate carpooling, in practice, these terms mean different things. Let’s break down the differences between ride-hailing, ridesharing, and carpooling.

Ride-hailing vs. ridesharing vs. carpooling: the lowdown

Here are the main differentiators between ride-hailing, ridesharing, and carpooling:


  • With ride-hailing, a rider hails a driver on-demand to take them to a destination of their choice.
  • Drivers aren’t going to the same destination as their passengers, and they are not picking up other passengers on the same route.
  • Drivers are hired by a specific company, make income from their trips, and can take unlimited trips to make a profit.
  • Ride-hailing example: Uber, Lyft


  • Similar to ride-hailing, a ridesharing service connects riders with independent drivers who work on their own time. The driver makes income from their trips working with a specific company or service.
  • Different from ride-hailing, ridesharing services organize shared rides between multiple riders and a single driver.
  • Ridesharing example: UberPooL, Lyft Shared rides


  • By definition, carpooling is an arrangement between people–usually co-workers and neighbors–who commute to work or for a collective purpose in a shared vehicle.
  • Riders share origination and destination points, and the goal is to utilize existing resources on the road.
  • Drivers are not employed by a third party as professional drivers or independent contractors and they do not profit from their trips; rather, they’re simply driving their cars as they would normally during their commute, and choosing to bring other passengers along the way.
  • Riders and drivers are sharing the expense of the trip.
  • Carpooling can service areas where public transit systems are sparse or do not exist.
  • With Scoop’s complete commute solution managed by employers, employees can carpool together for a safe, reliable, and convenient way to get to and from the workplace.
  • Carpool example: Scoop

Each mode satisfies their own respective needs

People carpool for a few key reasons:

  1. Have a convenient and affordable commute solution they can rely on, even if they do not have their own vehicle or if they cannot be served by public transportation
  2. To split commute costs
  3. To save time in a carpool lane
  4. Make the commute time more meaningful by connecting with a co-worker

When carpooling becomes a sustainable routine for commuters, they experience unexpected benefits—less stress, rising productivity, and an increased likelihood of staying at their current employer.

Ridesharing and ride-hailing are more useful in the short-term and are transactional in nature.

While carpooling works as a partnership between riders and drivers, usually co-workers or neighbors, ridesharing and ride-hailing platforms allow the rider to hire the driver for on-demand trips. Thus, both parties aren’t heading in the same direction on a pre-planned journey; the trip is purely transactional.

What’s more, ridesharing and ride-hailing trips typically occur within dense urban environments and are less cost-effective for longer commutes.

Carpooling is flexible, cost-effective, and convenient for long-distance commuters who don’t have access to infrastructure like public transportation–and for those who don’t have access to their own vehicle.

Ridesharing and ride-hailing present an entirely different transportation experience from carpooling and satisfies immediate, short-distance, and short-term needs, rather than offering an impactful solution for longer or routine commutes.

Carpooling improves the commute in many ways.

From providing a safe and reliable commute to those who cannot be serviced by personal vehicles, public transit, or company shuttles to improving well-being to boosting productivity at work, there are many ways that an improved commute can transform your life, but it’s not until after commuters get into a carpool that they realize its impact. They begin to find that the benefits of carpooling go beyond just saving money and time.

One survey found that after carpooling with Scoop, nearly 80% of carpoolers were less stressed, and 50% said they felt more energized and productive at work. About 92% of respondents also reported that they’ve had opportunities to meet new people, network, and exchange ideas with co-workers. Additionally, 70% of carpoolers said that they were more likely to stay at their current employer after carpooling with Scoop.

Even though the commute is currently on pause for some, more than 60% of U.S. workers are still commuting to the workplace–and their commute needs and options have changed.

While not everyone can eliminate their commute, we can provide ways to make it more enjoyable, from making new friends, discovering new experiences, and making better use of commuters’ valuable time.

In summary: what are the biggest differentiators between ridesharing, ride-hailing, and carpooling?

So, what are the biggest differentiators between ridesharing, ride-hailing, and carpooling?

Ride-hailing and ridesharing are transactions that get you from A to B for short-distance trips.

Carpooling is an experience. Not only does it increase access to safe and equitable transportation, it is impactful, can improve our well-being, our work, and the quality of our commute. Carpooling with Scoop provides employees with a safe, reliable, and convenient commute, championed by their employer.

By understanding the ever-growing mobility ecosystem, we can make informed decisions about which modes of transportation are best for our personal–and professional–needs.

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