The world’s largest long-distance car-sharing network, BlaBlaCar, looks set to transform the way we travel by helping fill empty seats. After a huge $100 million investment by Index Ventures back in July, the Paris-based company has leaped into a new realm that it hopes will better connect drivers travelling from one city to another with someone who wants a ride. Since everyone chips in for fuel, BlaBlaCar provides a cheaper alternative to other forms of public transport and also means spare car seats don’t go to waste.
In a similar way to Airbnb, BlaBlaCar brings informal carpooling into a more accessible arena. The company already has a huge following, with more than eight million members scattered across 12 countries. The system uses a web-based network to find willing car sharers riding from city to city. Drivers and passengers create a profile, post their journeys, respond and pay online, and also receive reviews.
By successfully matching people to one another and making transport more affordable, BlaBlaCar has become a significant part of a global sharing-economy revolution. Since the recession hit Europe, people have been opting for car sharing more and more, and the community has grown exponentially in the last few years. However, the popularity of the site among travelers is causing some bitterness among public transportation companies who are affected by the rise in car sharing.
Over the last few years I have often used the site to travel between cities within Europe and so far it has been simple, fun and problem free. As the system relies heavily on trust, its important to remain vigilant and go with your instincts when it comes to accepting or offering rides. However, as well as being a more affordable and sustainable option it can sometimes be a more efficient way to travel. It’s quicker than a long-haul bus ride, and often a much nicer experience that can help restore faith in the idea of a sharing community.