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Anyone familiar with BlaBlaCar?

A friend suggested the use of www.blablacar.com rideshare as a cheap and fun way to get around Europe. Has anyone used this? As either a passenger or a driver? He also suggested I register as a driver to cut down on the gas cost. Not a bad idea especially if my riders are familiar with the destination (I won't be!).

Posted by
9363 posts

Are you talking about being a driver in Europe, or do they operate here, too? You can't be a driver in Europe without a work permit.

Posted by
8889 posts

If you are a driver, whose car would you be driving? Car hire companies may not be happy about you taking paid passengers.

Posted by
38 posts

Rule number 1 for BlaBlaCar is that it is ride/cost sharing. No profit can be made. I guess they monitor price per mile. So it would not be like I am using the car as a commercial taxi. Also, the lease programs technically are selling you the car and buying it back, so you OWN the car for the duration. But yeah, I would check before doing anything.
So anyone ever heard of BlaBlaCar?

Posted by
507 posts

Looks like a UK business from a glance at the website.

Nigel, Basel, Emma,any comments?

Posted by
11613 posts

Will you need a national driver's license?

Posted by
27723 posts

It sounds like another gray area, like Uber, where the law has to catch up. When I was much younger I thought nothing of piling into a (already very full) VW microbus and going where the driver thought best.

I was much younger then, the world has changed quite a lot, and microbuses are getting pretty rare. I also used to drop VW engines and take them apart and rebuild them with nothing more complicated than hand tools, an engine lift and a timing light. Times have changed there, too.

Even if a driver has a very good rating I personally wouldn't get in a car with a stranger driving. Even if all my passengers have very good ratings, I wouldn't sell a lift to a complete stranger.

The website can say that all the major insurers in Britain are fine with the operation. I wouldn't want to be the person testing that out. Webpages are easy to write (I have written many) but insurance claims and laws are not so easy. That's why there are all those high paid attorneys out there.

Posted by
8889 posts

@Colette. According to their website they are French, but operate in 13 countries.
They say prices are capped so the driver does not make a profit, just gets a contribution to costs and they have cleared it legally. Sounds reasonable.

But, you would have to get the car owner's permission if you wanted to be a driver.

Posted by
507 posts

To Chris . . .

. . . I stopped at "Choose from thousands of rides offered by drivers across the UK, everyday." on the front page. It sounds a lot like Uber. I, too, would not want to be the person to find out how well the liability insurance works.

Posted by
8889 posts

@ Colette. It's nothing like Uber. It is a ride sharing scheme for people who are already going on a journey, and want a passenger who is willing to share the costs.
As you are not making a profit, it does not count as a taxi and you do not have to have a taxi licence or special insurance, it is like hitch-hiking and offering to pay part of the fuel costs. "I, too, would not want to be the person to find out how well the liability insurance works." - the insurance is exactly the same as if your neighbour offers you a lift.

Posted by
27723 posts

I don't think the webpages tell the entire story. The French one says they are French, the UK one says they are British... a degree of vagueness remains...

and they say that the driver doesn't make a profit so is teflon. I don't believe it. It is simply maths. If, say the driver says to break even I need 30 of whatever currency to break even and just not make a profit, if they get one rider to pay that 30 they break even. The website says the price is paid by each rider. So if they fill the car and get 4 riders, they collect 120 moneys. That sounds like a profit to me.

So the driver has expenses, and meets some, all or many of those expenses by charging passengers money for a ride.

You know, when it is put like that it sounds a whole like a taxi or private BUT UNLICENSED driver business.

I wonder what the tax authorities in the various countries have to say.... I wouldn't trust the website which is in it to make their business model work, of course; it might be prudent to consult a CPA/Chartered Accountant/equivalent in the country you want to work in.

Posted by
4685 posts

Blablacar is ultimately a French business. It has been running for about 10 years, albeit under a different name in the early days. It makes its money by creaming off a commission from the ride-sharer in countries where it acts as the payment processor. There are other companies around, such as carpool.com operating out of Germany.

It is the modern day equivalent of sticking a notice up in the newsagent's window saying you are going to X on Monday and does anyone want to share the cost. Riding with people you don't know might not appeal to everyone - it wouldn't particularly to me. However, the principle of non profit ride sharing is established - in your own car. It isn't hire and reward, but a small percentage of insurances do exclude lift sharing in any circumstance.

Posted by
38 posts

It looks like you all had quite the conversation while I was away. Personally, I am not terribly afraid of strangers, but if I don't feel comfortable I would definitely bail. And definitely will check the insurance to make sure rideshare is not excluded if it is my car. I just thought folks here might have personal insight. thanks a lot for all your suggestions and input. j2

Posted by
3932 posts

I just saw an article about this and was interested as well.

I'm not totally worried about strangers - we are couchsurfing hosts (50 hosting gigs) and guests (about 15 times) since 2008, so I have no issues with strangers. I guess my issue would be with how the other person drives (I don't even like how my hubby drives somedays!). I've had couchsurfers who've stayed with me get rides with people thru kijiji (Canada's version of Craigslist) and help with gas expenses, so that's what it seems like to me.

I do like the fact that people rate the drivers, as opposed to looking for a ride on a site like kijiji/craigslist where you have no idea who or what you are getting...

Posted by
38 posts

Couchsurfing was a suggestion made to me also, to keep expenses down. I have never done it but I might, along with AirBnB and all the guidebooks. being pretty much off season I am not making detailed plans and reservations ahead of time, figuring a week ahead would be good enough. Or even walking into town cold, those have been some of the best.

Posted by
3932 posts

I've been using airbnb a lot more. Our trip last year to California I didn't even bother trying any couch surfing. The few times we stayed with people this year...they were people we've stayed with multiple times in Maine and England, more friends now to us.

Couch surfing has changed in the last few years. I think a lot less people are using it. July is usually my busy month (don't get a huge amount of requests where I live) but this year I had no requests. And the long time hosts are a little less likely I think to host new people...so many people are just signing up to get free lodgings and not really participating in the (so called) spirit of the site and getting to know your hosts a bit. That being said, we've met some great people, some I still keep in touch with, some we've stayed with three and four times, we even managed to visit a lady in Los angeles who we had hosted the year before.

If you do decide to try couch surfing, big cities are harder to get hosts, unless you are lucky...I usually don't even bother trying. Switzerland was the easiest place to find hosts when we went...every place I asked, I'd have two or three offers. France was pretty good as well in the north and south...