Road transport. It’s one of the biggest sources of pollution in the UK, contributing to poor air quality, climate change, congestion and noise disturbance. There are a whopping 77 vehicles per km of road in the UK whilst the average car carries just 0.56 passengers and a massive 61 per cent of journeys carry no passengers at all: BlaBlaCar is fixing this, in the UK and across Europe.
By enabling over 600,000 people a month to share inter-city rides, BlaBlaCar is increasing the efficiency of road transport, and reducing it’s environmental impact. With over 3 million members, in ten countries across Europe, BlaBlaCar has built new, affordable, sustainable and social form of transport, breaking away from the paradigm of infrastructure strain, rising prices and inefficiency.
The way it works is very simple: BlaBlaCar connects drivers with empty seats and people travelling the same way, so they can share long journeys. The website and mobile apps allow drivers to publish a planned journey. Passengers can then search available offers, and get in touch with the driver of their choice.
Since cars have existed, home-work and home-school ride sharing has commonly been used by communities to share the cost of road transport. Shared journeys are typically organised between people as a recurring arrangement. What BlaBlaCar does—long distance, intercity journey sharing—is therefore not an entirely original idea, but BlaBlaCar has transformed journey sharing from a good neighbourly practise into a scalable, sustainable, mainstream, intercity transport. Two factors have been essential to this:
First, BlaBlaCar has enabled trust in the community. Although they have not met before, BlaBlaCar, members feel comfortable travelling with each other because BlaBlaCar provides a range of features to create a secure, reliable, trust-based community and easy connections between drivers and passengers. For example, members have a full profile with photo and verified contact details, and they rate one another after travelling together, allowing them to build trusted reputations in the community.
Second, BlaBlaCar regulates fair and transparent prices. BlaBlaCar acts as a trusted third-party intermediary: An automatic price calculator sets a fair price per passenger based on a mileage calculation, making the transaction easy and transparent for all parties. This was crucial to making BlaBlaCar a widely used platform for value exchange between drivers and passengers. Ultimately, the major financial benefit reaped by users is what triggers the new behaviour here.
By helping the population save money on travel by sharing journeys, BlaBlaCar has succeeded in creating a pan-European change of consumption patterns. And the new, more efficient behaviour created has a greater, and in many ways, even more far-reaching, positive impact than just savings (although in todays economy, that’s incredibly important, of course!). By bringing millions of people together into a sharing community and enabling them to connect and share resources, BlaBlaCar has contributed to building a more collaborative society, where people consider sharing costs and value a logical choice. A promising development for our society and future.