BlaBlaCar is currently piloting a new ride-sharing service for France called BlaBlaLines that focuses on making carpooling to work a more “organic” process. It also doesn’t appear the service is intended to compete directly with companies like Uber, whose ride-sharing is more closely related to hailing a taxi. Instead of calling for a ride from a dedicated driver, the application behind the new service will automatically sync up drivers and passengers along lines of travel, as a matter of convenience and environmental footprint reduction. BlaBlaLines is even backed by ADEME – the French Environment and Energy Agency. The pilot is taking place along two routes in France, including Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne and Toulouse to Montauban, and got its start on May 2.
As mentioned above, BlaBlaCar is looking to innovate in a completely different way than would be competitors. Although there are bound to be hiccups along the way – as with any beta, pilot, or experiment – that alone should help it avoid at least some of the pitfalls those other companies have faced along the way. Here’s how it works. Users sign up with the application and set up the destinations they need and what time they need to be there. Then the application works out the meeting points and times automatically so there isn’t any confusion to be caused by miscommunication. Those are set up along the “lines” of travel of the driver, with the meeting place set as close to the passenger as possible. That should – with enough users signed up for the service – make getting a ride more natural and far less dependent on the whims of any given driver, while also allowing the driver to still take the route he or she would normally be taking to get to his or her destination.
The BlaBlaLines test doesn’t have a specified end date, but BlaBlaCar says it will continue to rework the application as needed before finally rolling the app out to the rest of the country at a later time. Unfortunately, there’s already one glaringly obvious feature that’s missing. Passengers will need to pay with cash for a ride for the time being, with a payment system expected to come in a later iteration of the app. However, the ideas behind BlaBlaLines are interesting at very least and could ultimately have a positive impact on the ride-sharing industry. The application is available in France right now as a beta, for anybody interested in giving it a shot.