Miss the holiday airport crowds and expensive train tickets by sharing a stranger's car
Sunday 21 August 2011
Next weekend's bank holiday brings the height of the summer getaway upon us. Millions will be heading for the airports, the coast or the countryside for a break.
Put off by airport queues and crowded and costly trains, many will choose to travel by car. No wonder: a car is still a byword for convenience allowing you to get right to the door of your destination. But driving and car ownership are more expensive than ever, so how to get the convenience without the cost? This is where the plethora of newly launched car sharing or pooling sites comes into play.
The idea is simple: car drivers register their interest and where they are driving to on one of a number of websites such as blablacar.com, gocarshare.com, carshare.com and liftshare.com and they are paired up with potential passengers. The driver and passenger agree a price, date, meeting time and drop-off point. Costs of the journey are usually split 50-50, and if the car owner has an "any driver" clause in their insurance then driving duties can be shared too.
Regular commuters can save hundreds if not thousands a year, while savings can be also made on one-off journeys. And, of course, there are the environmental benefits of reducing the number of journeys.
The costs of registering vary. Gocarshare says users are free to make a contribution to the running of the site but there is no compulsory charge. Whereas blablacar.com offers free joining and doesn't charge either users or passengers – making money from advertising – and also has a very useful passenger cost calculator. The driver enters the start point and destination and any toll roads; the calculator then takes account of likely fuel use, average vehicle depreciation for the journey and a share of ongoing maintenance costs.
But the differences aren't huge. So, for example, a journey from London to Edinburgh will cost about £76 in fuel according to Google Maps but for the same journey, according to blablacar.com, each passenger in the car should pay £39. "We work on the HM Revenue & Customs figure that driving costs 45p a mile, but this would make long journeys too expensive so we tend to divide this by three and this is the suggested cost of the journey," says Nicolas Brusson, founder of blablacar.com. "The driver is free to adjust this up or down just as long as the price agreed at the outset is the price paid on completion of the journey."
Mr Brusson's firm – which was launched in France in 2006 and has more than 1.3 million users in Europe – gets most of its traffic from people travelling at weekends. "One model is based very much on one-off weekends away. We reckon that the costs for the passenger are about a third of the cost of the cheapest train ticket," he said.
People looking for a regular commuting partner may be better using liftshare.com, which is more about pairing up people travelling day in day out to a workplace and sharing costs.
James Fraser, 28, used blablacar.com for weekend trips to Paris to see his girlfriend and made substantial cost savings. "Although it takes longer, it cost about a quarter of a Eurostar ticket, plus the drivers have normally dropped me pretty close to my final destination, which helps. To date, the drivers have been nice and chatty, helping me to improve my French."
But getting into a car with a stranger does have safety implications. Although sites allow users to leave feedback – like eBay – on their experiences, precautions should still be taken.
Liftshare.com, for instance, recommends meeting in a public place, asking for ID of some sort to ensure you're travelling with whom you're supposed to be and telling friends and family all your trip details.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 Scottish independence live: Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum - as it happened
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
- 5 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
iJobs Money & Business
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...
To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...
Day In a Page
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize