With rail and fuel costs soaring, we need to get smarter when choosing how we travel. Plenty of us make car journeys with empty seats and we could easily share the cost with people wanting to go the same way…
…if only we knew who they were.
Well, where there’s a need, there’s a website and unsurprisingly a number of car-sharing services are popping up online. They aim to pair up drivers with spare seats and passengers who need a lift.
However, would I ever use such a service? As a car owner I’d most likely be offering my services as a driver and I must admit I’ve got reservations about having complete strangers in my car – what if they turned out to be crazy, moaned incessantly about petrol prices or simply hadn’t had a bath for months?
Is car sharing actually just the modern equivalent of picking up hitchhikers (plus all the associated risks) with a financial incentive attached?
Some services, such as the recently-launched Blablacar, offer a little extra security and the opportunity to vet fellow travellers before taking the plunge. Drivers log what kind of car they have, how comfortable it is and some pertinent info about their habits. Do they smoke? Do they listen to music while driving? How much do they like to chat with their passengers en route (rated on the Bla, BlaBla or BlaBlaBla scale!)?
After that, users of the service then ‘rate’ their passengers or driver on the website with a brief summary of their experience and a verdict delivered on a 1 to 5 star rating.
However, because it’s a new service, there are lots of people registered who’ve had no feedback at all, which doesn’t help if you’re trying to filter out the weirdos.
So would I use the service? Probably not, but maybe that’s because I’m just antisocial and reasonably affluent – petrol prices haven’t yet hit the heights that would force me to share my car with strangers.
Would I have used a car-sharing service in my penniless student days? Yes I would. It’s a whole lot better than standing on the roadside with your thumb stuck out for hours before eventually being picked up by a lonely truck driver. Have you or would you use a car-sharing scheme?