Cash-strapped commuters turning to car-sharing schemes
The UK has seen a surge of interest in "ride-sharing" websites as hard-up motorists look for ways to drive down the cost of the daily commute.
Websites such as BlaBlaCar.com, Carpooling.com and Liftshare.com connect drivers looking to "rent" a spare seat with passengers looking for ways to avoid astronomical train fares, soaring fuel prices and overly congested roads.
BlaBlaCar arranges 600,000 rides a month, or the equivalent of more than 1,000 full high-speed trains.
The number of registered users on the site has rocketed from just 100,000 three years ago to around three million today, with more and more commuters looking for cheap travel alternatives.
Britain is thought to be one of the fastest growing countries for these services in Europe, a reaction to the tough economic times, rising public transport costs and crippling cost of vehicle ownership.
Nicolas Brusson, co-founder of the Paris-based BlaBlaCar told The Times: "Today, the pain is not buying a car, it's owning a car."
"It is getting more and more expensive to drive, and people just want to offset some of the cost," he added.
Many of the websites are completely free to join and take a matter of seconds to sign up thanks to Facebook or just slightly longer if users wish to manually fill in the details form.
To ensure the safety of its users, BlaBlaCars allows the community to self-moderate, using profiles and ratings to evaluate members and vet those that do not respect the BlaBlaCar spirit of positive community collaboration.
It also employs a dedicated Member Relations team, available every day to support users, so you always get the best experience.
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