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Carpooling integrates other modes of transport on its booking site in certain markets. Most users also take public transport or ride a bike at least once a week. “We are working on getting people door to door rather than train station to train station or airport to airport, ” Barnikel told me.
In Germany, the company already sells more train tickets online than any other vendor.
Carpooling provides profiles of all drivers and a ratings system that helps to keep quality high. The most common problem before the introduction of the online booking system, which requires customers to pay in advance, was passengers not turning up.
Sometimes hitches also arise when drivers or passengers fail to fully read each other’s profiles so you end up, for example, with a smoker in the car of a non-smoker.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the potential safety concerns, the service is equally popular with men and women. 51 percent of registered users are female, and although a women-only drive service is offered, it is rarely used Barnikel said.
Carpooling will not be alone in the U.S. market. Rivals include Zimride, Ridejoy, Avego, Rideshare, and eRideshare, but Barnikel believes that Carpooling’s experience in developing its product over 10 years in so many different markets will put it in good standing.
In a world battling an economic recession and environmental disasters, maybe ride-sharing’s moment has arrived, even for the world’s biggest motorheads.
Carpooling was founded in 2001 and has 45 employees.
This article, written by Ciara Byrne, was originally published on VentureBeat GreenBeat, an editorial partner of GreenCarReports.