Carpooling announced it’s U.S. launch in mid-December, bringing another ridesharing option to a market that has so far failed to really take up this wallet-friendly, environmentally-friendly, and often fun mode of travel. One of the leaders of the European ridesharing market, Carpooling is the top ridesharing app in Germany where the company was founded. They focus on mid- to long-distance trips, and offer true ridesharing, not the peer-to-peer taxi services like Lyft and Uber that people in the U.S. like to call ridesharing. I’ve written a lot about how much I liked Blablacar in Spain, but sadly this company is expanding to everywhere but the United States. So naturally I was happy to see Carpooling taking on the American market.
The Carpooling service is only offered through phone apps. Members of the service (membership is free) can log in to post empty seats in their car for upcoming trips or to book seats listed for trips they want to take. The prices per seat are set by drivers, and Carpooling collects and transfers the money, taking 19% for their services. As with other ridesharing services, Carpooling allows users to rate their drivers and riders and includes member profiles.
In an interesting twist Carpooling has partnered with Uber to offer within-app transportation to help riders get to their pick up locations. I think this is a smart move if Uber will help publicize Carpooling in the American market where ridesharing is far from common. And perhaps Carpooling has correctly analyzed the convenience factor as the main barrier to significant expansion of American ridesharing use.
But I’m not sure that people looking to save money on travel by using ridesharing are going to want to spend money on Uber to get to their start point. Within the app they advertise “Take an UberX for just $1 per mile from home to your meeting point.” If my meeting point is somewhere 10 miles away that can be reached by public transit, I don’t think I want to add $10 to a trip on which I’m paying $7 for a 42 mile drive (actual example trip I found listed for tomorrow from Oakland to San Jose).
It will be interesting to see if people take the convenience of Uber to get to the cost savings of a rideshare. In the end even doubling the price of a rideshare might make sense in the United States where public transit to go medium and long distances is really abysmal. And if this convenience of Uber integration gets more Americans ridesharing then I’m all for it.