French phenomenon to take carpooling mainstream
As the ever-increasing price of petrol continues to fill British drivers with dread every time they pull in to fill up, car sharing seems a better idea than ever. It is estimated that you can save up to 80% of the cost of a journey just by taking passengers and splitting the cost of the fuel. The French company Comuto has announced that it is to launch its carpooling service known as BlablaCar in the UK following its spectacular success in France.
A million users in France have saved an amazing €100m since January 2009. Their service is known in France as Covoiture.fr and the phenomenal success it has enjoyed was unprecedented. Drivers and passengers alike have given testimonies to how much they enjoy the scheme, and how it has taken away the frustrations of using public transport and the inevitable delays they suffer from.
The site was founded in 2006, and is expanding by approximately 50,000 users a month. They are not only saving money, but have prevented over 200,000 tons of CO2 being released, thus helping the environment at the same time. To use the service, all drivers have to do is post the details of their regular trips and a suggested price for the passengers. This is normally a proportion of the fuel cost. Passengers then search for the trips they want and see if it is within the budget they are prepared to pay.
The need for a mainstream carpooling service is attributed to drivers looking to offset the burden of rocketing petrol costs on journeys they are already making. In April 2011, the price of unleaded petrol was 135.8 pence per litre, almost 15p a litre more expensive than in April 2010.
 Figure is based on the following information from Covoiturage.fr: an average trip has 1.5 to 2 passengers and €36 is collected by the driver on average. An average trip in an average car would cost €45.
Data taken from the AA Fuel Price Report April 2011