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@colorant’s answer refers to an offer by BlaBlaCar of “24€ pro Person 4 freie Plätze” for Amsterdam to Hanover.

Rome2Rio by car from Amsterdam to Hanover estimates 60€-85€ (and admittedly 19€ for Rideshare).

With four spaces available the upper end of the range seems would be more appropriate (ie 85€). Split between driver and four others this equates to 17€ per person.

The German version of BlaBlaCar’s terms and conditions does not appear to detail booking fees but the English version states the maximum is 20% of the Cost Contribution. So for a contribution of 24€ the maximum booking fee is 4.80€ per passenger. This leaves at least 19.20€ per passenger to be passed on to the driver. The ‘contribution’ from four ride sharing passengers at that rate would be 76.80€, a little under Rome2Rio's high-end estimate of total* cost. However, five passengers (ie including the driver) at that rate would total 96€ - 13% more than Rome2Rio’s high-end estimate of the actual cost.

BlaBlaCar states “No profits are made which is why BlaBlaCar drivers' insurance policies are not affected.”

However, if Rome2Rio’s figures are to be believed, it seems drivers may be making profits and consequently the journey may not be covered by insurance (my concern).

On the other hand, 24€ appears to be a genuine and recent quote, indicating that Rome2Rio’s Rideshare estimate may be inaccurate by 26%.

Is it a mixture – Booking fees are more than 20% for this journey and/or Rome2Rio is not fully up-to-date for prices and/or 24€ is an exceptionally high example for the journey in question (perhaps because other rideshare services are more expensive, or a vehicle with very high fuel consumption)?


* It seems I misunderstood Rome2Rio's figures for the cost of driving. These, as has been explained by @Relaxed, are basically fuel-only, or thereabouts. Other 'variable' costs (ie those that also increase more-or-less in proportion to mileage) would be about the same again (tyres, clutch and brake pads, oil, filters, windscreen wipers, bulbs etc) and, depending upon usage, 'fixed' costs (eg insurance, annual certification etc) could be the same again, again.

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    @JoErNanO Ridesharing sites themselves claim that no extra insurance is needed specifically because drivers are not making a profit and, as my answer explains, they even put some restrictions in place to enforce this limitation. – Relaxed Aug 14 '15 at 11:10
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    @Relaxed Is this true in all countries, in some countries, or just in the UK? I'm mentioning the UK because the linked blablacar site is the UK one, and this country is extra special when it comes to car insurance. – JoErNanO Aug 14 '15 at 11:26
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    @JoErNanO I have no idea whether it's true or not or where but all Blablacar websites I have checked (France, Germany…) use similar language. The UK website even has some UK-specific details. – Relaxed Aug 14 '15 at 11:33
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    I am wondering, What kind of insurance coverage are you expecting as a passenger? – arved Aug 14 '15 at 12:03
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    @pnuts: The fact that you are asking about coverage for a passenger may change things substantially. For instance, in my US state, coverage for injuries to passengers in your own vehicle is an optional extra on a policy, and typical limits are on the order of $10,000, which a serious injury could easily far exceed. It's assumed that the passenger's own health insurance would cover the rest. So even if the driver's usual insurance policy is in effect and fully valid, it may not provide the coverage you want. – Nate Eldredge Aug 15 '15 at 7:28
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+50

I can comment a bit on the other side of the equation, namely what drivers see when offering a ride on the website. But before that note that Rome2rio's estimate apparently only covers the price of petrol whereas Blablacar's computations are based on a total costs estimate including depreciation, maintenance, insurance, etc. That's a huge difference.

Concretely, drivers on Blablacar see a recommended price for a given itinerary and can adjust it up or down (within limits). It's also impossible to offer more than 5 seats. These restrictions were put in place to make sure nobody makes a huge profit while keeping a simple per-passenger price (I understand you could originally offer more than 5 seats, e.g. if you had a van).

But there is some wiggle room and if you put everything to the max, you get a warning about exceeding the costs and being potentially on the hook for taxes and any damages you cause and breaking the law on personal transportation services but can still go through. (The theory presented in the FAQ is that you can ask for more money if you have a high-end car or are willing to make a detour to pick up or drop a passenger.)

Then, from the passenger side, I think rides are color-coded depending on price, green is close or below the recommended price, yellow is above and red is close to the maximum authorized price. So if you are concerned about this as a passenger, it's perfectly possible to avoid the more expensive rides. You can also see how many other seats are offered for a given ride and take this into account.

I also vaguely recall reading somewhere that the recommended price was based on three paying passengers per car but I could not confirm that again (the warning pops up when you switch from 4 to 5).

Now, regarding the specific example that prompted your question, when I try to offer a ride between Amsterdam and Hannover, €24 is default price I get through the (French-language) driver's interface (€17 if avoiding the motorway). But I see (much) cheaper rides being offered by other drivers.

I guess the exact rules and calculations differ from country to country as these things are typically heavily regulated by the local tax office but I only used blablacar.fr (I know a few earlier initiatives in Germany and Blablacar now covers several European markets but it's originally a French company).

Researching this a bit more, I see that Blablacar rides posted on one website show up on the others (e.g. a France-based user can offer a ride from Amsterdam to Hannover and it will show up on the Polish website). But the recommended prices apparently differ a lot so that, if I am interpreting this correctly, a ride offered by a Polish driver can be marked as “expensive” and still be lower than one offered by a German driver (and vice-versa if you look at this through the Polish website). On a route with lots of international traffic, this makes for very confusing color codes.

  • Amsterdam-Hannover avoiding the motorway? Really? That's going to be very challenging routing out of Amsterdam, involving big detours, more stopping, and of course much slower. Why would it be cheaper? – gerrit Aug 14 '15 at 10:59
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    @gerrit It's just a checkbox you can select, there is a price-per-kilometre depending on whether or not you want to take the motorway, which is especially relevant in countries where tolls are very high. The reasons are obvious: you save on tolls and also drive slower so you don't use as much petrol. Personally I rarely bothered in those countries but while it's obviously slower it's much more doable than you seem to imagine, even in Germany or in the Netherlands. In any case, that's completely unrelated to the question at hand, which is about the logic of the site. – Relaxed Aug 14 '15 at 11:08
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    @pnuts Uber is a very different kettle of fish, I personally feel they are abusing the word “ridesharing” to operate a taxi service. At the end of the day, it might or might not be beneficial and sustainable but it is certainly based on completely different principles. – Relaxed Aug 14 '15 at 11:30
  • Uber drivers are definitely doing it for making profit, which is why a normal car insurance is not going to pay if a Uber taxi driver causes an accident. – gnasher729 Aug 15 '15 at 13:37
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In Germany and Austria the drivers insurance will always(1) cover you, no matter if the driver is making profit from the ride or not. I guess this will be similar in other EU countries, though the amount of cover might differ.

In case the driver is violating his insurance terms e.g. by doing for profit rides, the insurance will then try to get their money back from the driver or the owner of the car.

References (in German):

(1) Exception: vis major, e.g. the accident was caused by lightning struck, storm etc.

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    +1 Interesting point! Could you perhaps add a source or link for people interested in the details? – Relaxed Aug 14 '15 at 12:50

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