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A Lehigh Valley man is starting a new ride-share service. The catch? Passengers don’t have to pay.

Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen at Easton's Centre Square on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, is starting an rideshare company called Fure.cab that offers free rides.

(April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)
Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen at Easton’s Centre Square on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, is starting an rideshare company called Fure.cab that offers free rides. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)
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About three years ago, Rudy Ferraz picked up someone in Hoboken, New Jersey, while Ferraz was working for a ride-service company.

The ride stuck with Ferraz, not because of who the customer was, but what he was doing: “This guy was literally buried in his phone,” he recalled.

The Palmer Township resident thought about how he could attract businesses to advertise in ride-share vehicles, with the advertising paying for rides and him providing the merchants with customers’ feedback on their ads.

The idea surfaced for him about five years ago. Come April 20, Ferraz plans to launch his business, Fure.cab, with a test “reveal” on Easton’s Centre Square. From April 21 to 25, he plans to offer brief ride demonstrations, starting from the circle.

He hopes to set up Fure.cab first in Philadelphia while continuing to keep the Lehigh Valley service. But Ferraz said he needs to draw awareness and investors, which is why he chose Easton for the “public beta reveal.”

His goal: Bring free rides to people in 2,500 cities worldwide, starting in Philadelphia and the Valley.

“We’re making money on data, not fares,” Ferraz said of his business, which he said makes it unique. Fure is pronounced Free; he said he couldn’t use Free because the cost to acquire the name was too expensive.

The major players in ride-hailing, including Uber and Lyft, offer occasional free rides such as on Halloween or New Year’s Eve, according to their websites. Lyft has long played second-fiddle to rival Uber, which softened the pandemic ride demand slump by expanding into food delivery, according to Associated Press.

Ferraz wants to make free rides an everyday event for people who have relied on the service. In addition, users could have their meals delivered for free with the Fure.cab app.

  • Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen at Easton's Centre Square...

    Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen at Easton's Centre Square on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, is starting an rideshare company called Fure.cab that offers free rides. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)

  • Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen here on Tuesday, March...

    Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen here on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, is starting an Easton-based rideshare company called Fure.cab that offers free rides. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)

  • Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen here on Tuesday, March...

    Rudy Ferraz, of Palmer Township, seen here on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, is starting an Easton-based rideshare company called Fure.cab that offers free rides. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)

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A consumer who uses Fure can select making the ride free or pay, according to Ferraz. If they choose free, they will watch up to seven advertisements in a 10-minute ride on their phone screens. Then they provide feedback on each ad. The feedback is aggregated and provided to businesses using formulas Ferraz has set up with artificial intelligence.

For food delivery, users on the app review several commercials before figuring out the order, delivery time and payment, Ferraz said.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission requires Uber and Lyft, known by the general term “transportation network companies,” to have a state license to operate and insurance on file. Ferraz said because his rides are free to consumers, he was told during a telephone conversation with an unidentified official that he does not need to be registered with the state.

PUC spokesperson Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said applications for new transportation services typically go through analysis before the agency makes a determination. “These are not decisions made during brief phone calls,” he said. The PUC’s Motor Carrier division would contact Ferraz to gather information, he said.

Ferraz also was told by Easton officials he needed a business license to operate the test launch and driving demonstrations, and city officials confirmed Ferraz secured a license.

For more information on how to ride, go to the website or its social media sites. The rides will start 10 a.m. each day beginning April 21, Ferraz said. The demonstration is also set for 10 a.m. April 20.

Ferraz sees an emerging new force in public transit, with all those ride-hailing customers wanting a means of getting to the gym, bar or home from somewhere. They also won’t mind being held captive by commercials in the back seats of their rides, with smartphones in their hands.

“You are in the back seat anyway,” he said.

Morning 첥Ƶ reporter Anthony Salamone can be reached at asalamone@mcall.com.

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