The question of how to pay a ride is something that has plagued the public transportation industry for decades, with riders having to navigate multiple channels to find one.
Now, new research by the nonprofit think tank Demos indicates that there may be a way to streamline the process for riders.
The researchers at the Center for Transportation and Policy found that, in some places, it is now easier to use online services to set up payments for rides.
The study, which was released Monday, examined rideshare services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar in a dozen cities and found that while riders can pay for rides by filling out a form online, the process is often cumbersome.
They also found that drivers are required to have their vehicles inspected at all times and that the drivers can charge higher fares to people with credit cards.
The group’s study looked at the transportation services in five cities: San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. They found that in five of those cities, a new online payment system called Ridebook, which requires drivers to pay by phone, was the most common way to pay rides.
According to the Demos report, Ridebook can be used to pay off fares by taking a photo of the vehicle, filling out the form online and paying the driver in cash.
Once the form is filled out, a ride can be scheduled via the app.
In a survey of drivers in these cities, the researchers found that driver payment options were relatively straightforward.
Only 5 percent of drivers said they would use Uber to pay the fare.
Only 2 percent said they used Lyft.
In Denver, only 4 percent said that they used Sidecar.
Drivers are also not required to use an Uber or Lyft app, meaning that they can pay by any of the other transportation services.
Drivers may also set up payment options with the city, but the process isn’t as seamless as using Ridebook.
For example, drivers in Portland, Ore., said that drivers would need to pay $5.50 for rides that they scheduled through the app or Lyft, which is not the most convenient option for drivers.
In the Denver survey, drivers were less certain about the type of payment options that they would choose.
Only 8 percent of driver-operated ride providers said they use Uber and Lyft.
Of those, only 2 percent use Sidecar, and drivers were not sure whether to use their own personal credit cards or pay with a ride-hailing company.
In another study, the Demose researchers found the following results for drivers in each city:In the Seattle area, Uber drivers made a combined $2.2 million in total revenue, while Lyft drivers made $1.4 million.
In Boston, drivers made an estimated $1 million in revenue.
Drives are also required to maintain a balance of payments to ride services in each of the five cities, which means that drivers have to maintain cash balances at all time.
The report notes that the majority of drivers are paying with cash, and that many drivers report being reluctant to make payments through the payment methods.
The authors of the Demoses study say that the new system could make it easier for drivers to make a payment and reduce the barriers for passengers to get a ride.
“With a simpler and more convenient payment method, it could be more affordable for drivers,” Demos senior research manager Matthew Seltzer said in a statement.
“In addition, the simple payment option could make this process less time consuming for passengers.”