Travelling BlaBla Style: Does It Really Work?

Michał Beim || CC 4.0

The spread of sharing economy has been supported by the expansion of the internet and other technologies. Simply put, sharing different stuff – from the drill in your garage, to your own house – requires downloading the right application to your mobile phone and starting helping others, for money, of course. The best known examples of sharing economy are Uber (an alternative to taxi) and AirBnB (an alternative to hotels accommodation). Nevertheless, a number of other sharing economy applications emerged. Let us take a closer look at BlaBlaCar which, by the way, I, personally, use quite often.

BlaBlaCar has been operating since 2004. Yet, it penetrated the Slovak market only in 2016. Its purpose is simple: to share car rides. If you are driving long distances or  going in the same direction as somebody else who owns a car, you can pick up a passenger or even become one in order to share your travel expenses.

The idea behind BlaBlaCar resembles that of Uber. However, in the case of BlaBlaCar a driver is not someone who drives hordes of customers around Bratislava or Košice for 2 hours. Instead, it is a driver, who might be travelling home from Bratislava to eastern Slovakia and wants to lower their travel expenses. Nevertheless, similarly to Uber, it is based on reputation. Since you can choose your driver and the fare you are willing to pay, it is in the interest of every single driver to collect the best possible references, so that the prospective passengers do not need to be worried about the ride being dangerous.

BlaBlaCar currently operates in 22 countries and is used by over 20 million customers. It is not as much regulated as Uber, which may be due to the fact that taxi drivers generally do not take long rides, stripping them of the opportunity to complain that BlaBlaCar is stealing their jobs.

BlaBlaCar brought to the table something that has been working on social media for a while now. All you had to do was update your status or post an inquiry in a social media group dedicated to sharing rides to find co-travellers. The downside was that you most likely did not know the person on the other end of social media, so negotiation1q was way more difficultsince you had no idea how good a driver the person really was. BlaBlaCar solved this problem with one simple application.

All you need to do is register and book a ride (based on your preferences) and wait for a text message with the telephone number of the driver who accepted your request. Along with saving expenses and time that you would otherwise waste bargaining via social media, BlaBlaCar also boasts even a greater advantage. It contributes to limiting COemissions by reducing the number of cars on our roads by using them to their full capacity. At the same time, it also allows you to meet many new people.

I come from the eastern Slovakia so I use BlaBlaCar quite often. It is true that I could use free trains, but I prefer a faster and more comfortable way of travelling. So far, having been using BlaBlaCar for a year now, I have never come across a notable problem. Only once (from total of 15 rides) did I encounter a racer-driver. But this was my fault, because the driver did not have any references and at the time of booking the ride noone else was sharing the ride. 

Translated by Martin Labaj

Martin Lindak