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Cut motoring costs by car sharing

Two people sharing a car journey

Could car-sharing be the answer to cutting your motoring costs?

Drivers have seen their expenses soar recently, with the price of fuel, vehicle excise duty and car insurance on the up, and other costs such as depreciation and servicing to take into account.

But by using a car-sharing service to find fellow travellers for long journeys, drivers can split their fuel expenses and save money.

For passengers, car-sharing can help them make trips for a fraction of the price of flying or taking the train.

A new car-sharing firm, goCarShare.com, says that its unique approach – which takes advantage of the Facebook network so sharers know exactly who they’ll be travelling with – can overcome Brits’ traditional aversion to sharing their cars with strangers.

How the service works

If you are looking for a lift or a passenger, you can sign up at the goCarShare.com website – you log in with your Facebook details, so you must already have registered there.

You simply leave details of the journey you want to make, stating whether you are a driver or passenger.

The site will then match you up with other motorists or passengers planning to make the same journey. You can then contact each other directly, and agree a pick up time and location, as well as a fair rate for fuel costs.

You can limit potential sharers to your Facebook friends, or friends of friends; you can also opt to share only with someone of the same sex.

It is recommended that you check the ID of the person you’re sharing with when you meet, to make sure they match the Facebook profile.

Sharers should meet in public places, and should notify friends of the details of their trip and travelling companion. They are also encouraged to leave feedback after the journey.

Could the service affect your car insurance?

If you have car insurance for social use only and do not make a profit from car sharing, operating the service should not affect your insurance.  But if you have concerns, it is always best to check with your insurer as policy terms and conditions vary.

To find out more about the service, we talked to goCarShare.com’s founder, Drummond Gilbert.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the site?

A: It was a miserable day at the beginning of the credit crunch: the combination of seeing frustrated drivers in stationary traffic and the general feeling of gloom from the worsening economic outlook led to my “eureka moment”.

Q: This isn’t the first car-sharing service – there are others such as Liftshare and Freewheelers. What sets goCarShare.com apart?

A: It’s built around Facebook, that’s probably the key difference. Unfortunately, as I researched the idea for car sharing, I noticed that other people had thought of it too and had tried to make it work with varying degrees of success.

The one thing that seemed to be holding the idea back in the UK is that people are very concerned about the idea of sharing with a car with a stranger.

The beauty of the site being built around Facebook is that you can see if you share friends or have interests in common, so the people that you will be sharing with will no longer be complete strangers. Ultimately, it’s totally up to you as to who you choose to share the journey with.

Q: How do sharers split the costs?

A: goCarShare is integrated with Google maps, when you enter a departure point and destination; it works out a recommended contribution for the passenger to pay the driver.

For example, we recommend that a passenger pays a driver £23 for a journey up to Edinburgh from London. This will involve them making a big saving from train journeys and avoid the stress and guilt of flying.

From the driver’s point of view, they are getting a significant contribution toward the cost of the petrol.

We are part of a cultural shift brought about by a combination of the recession, meaning people are being more careful with money, and the fact that looking after the environment is now in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds.

Clearly the future is going to involve mobile phones and will involve opening up car sharing as a last-minute travel solution. If people can see that there are people going their way at the last minute that is when things get really exciting for us.

The benefits of car sharing are discussed in our special in-depth report, Carless cities.