Author: Mariska Regtvoort
Ridesharing services give you a cheap way to travel, it’s better for the environment and if a lot of people use it, it can safe some traffic jams. Ridesharing is the most popular in Germany (Mitfahrgelegenheit), but it’s getting more and more popular in other countries as well. Besides Mitfahrgelegenheit there are also other similar initiatives, for example the Macedonian Patuvajzaedno.mk and the Polish Autostop.pl.
We already had an article about this way of travelling. But if you don’t have experience with this, you might still have some questions. What can you expect, what is the best way to use this service and is it safe? Using my own experience and the knowlegde of other ‘ridesharers’ and drivers I’ll try to give you some answers.
Daniel from Brasil used the service a couple of times and he is very satisfied with it. The company was always nice and the driving was safe. He would recommend it to everyone. Britta used it so many times in Germany, that she lost the count. She is very positive about it and met a lot of nice people with ridesharing. She also did a ride herself once. Katarina from Slovakia used the service just once, to go from Munchen to Berlin. She liked it and she will definitily use it again sometime. Jurek from Poland on the other hand, says he rather goes hitchiking. “If you hitchhike, people that take you want to do you a favour, they’re usually very open-minded and stuff, and when you do ridesharing they want to earn money on you so that’s not as nice.”
Driver Christian from The Netherlands says he likes the company, but of course the fuel money is an important reason too. He is positive about ridesharing, only he doesn’t like it when passengers don’t show up or try to bargain about the price at the end of the trip. But the passengers he had were mostly very friendly and intelligent people, and sometimes it led to very funny occasions. He still has nice memories about a journey with a crying girl who just broke up with her boyfriend. In the six hours she told him their whole story, and at the end the boy called her on the phone and they made up. Myself, I used the service twice. The first time was with a woman who ignored me and my friend the whole journey, we didn’t feel very comfortable in her car. But the second time I had a very talkative and social driver, who just wanted to have some good company during his many hours on the road every day. I think he even made friendship with the girl next to him, and in the end he didn’t even want to have our money! It can all happen on the highway!
What do the drivers expect from you? Do they expect you to be nice and social, or can you just sleep the whole ride? Well, ridesharing services are not meant as a social or networking service, but just as a practical one. So basically the only thing drivers will expect from you is that you give them your money and that you behave yourself in their car. So usually it won’t be a problem if you had a big party the night before and have an even bigger hangover, and all you want is to sleep. But some drivers would really like to have some conversations during their long travel. And most of the time there’s nothing wrong with that, because some good company can make your ride a lot more fun.
Is ridesharing a fast and comfortable way of travelling? I think it is. If there are no traffic jams, of course. Ok, it’s not as fast as a plane. But it’s definitely faster and more comfortable than a bus. And it may also be faster than a train. It’s sometimes a lot more practical than hitchhiking, and especially if you want to travel a long way it can be useful to arrange your trip beforehand.
How do you know you don’t pay too much? Of course it depends on where you use this service. For Mitfahrgelegenheit, 5 to 7 euros is a reasonable price per 100 km and according to Patuvajzaedno, in Macedonia it’s between 250 and 300 denars per 100 km.
Stepping in the car of a stranger, is that safe? A question a lot of people ask. The opinions about this are different. Daniel wants to recommend ridesharing to everyone, partly because it’s so safe, and Jurek didn’t even think about safety before he used it. But Katarina thinks that it can be dangerous. You never really know whose car you step into.“ But it’s safer than hitchhiking. At least you have someone’s name and number from the website and you’ve had some contact with each other before getting into the car.”
Personally I also think there’s a risk when you step in the car of a stranger. Especially when you’re alone. It’s not a reason for me not to use this service. But you can’t be too careful.
Most of the ridesharers I asked don’t have any bad experiences with ridesharing. Britta just once. The driver was driving way too fast and she didn’t feel safe about that.
To make the service more safe, Mitfahrgelegenheit has made a black list. If you have a bad experience with a driver (or a passenger) you can let them know. It makes the service a bit safer. Besides that there’s also the possibility on the website for women to choose to share rides only with female persons.
But the best way to explore ridesharing is to do it yourself. So if you don’t have any plans for the weekend, just visit your friends on the other side of the country or plan a holiday somewhere abroad.
Have a nice and safe trip! Here is some advice before you go:
1. Always try to contact a driver by phone. It’s the quickest way, and the most personal.
2. Be there on time. And if you are late or changed your plans, let the driver know. It is very frustrating for a driver when he has to wait for people who don’t show up. And maybe there are some other people who are also waiting somewhere.
3. If you don’t feel safe, don’t step into the car. And if you already did, just go out the nearest possibility or ask for a stop. Your safety is the most important.
4. Tell the driver if you think he or she is not driving safely.
5. Decide about a price before getting in the car and don’t pay before you’re on the destination.
6. Don’t pay too much! The meaning is that both you and the driver should gain something with it, not the driver making profit.