Liftshare are a self-financed, innovative British business and potential father of the modern sharing economy (subject to DNA tests). They connect people travelling the same way so that they can share their car journeys. The team’s mission is to ensure that everyone has someone to travel with; solving transport poverty with fewer cars, greater access, and happier travellers! We spoke to Liftshare to discuss who they are, the sharing economy and the deep question of trust…
Who are Liftshare?
Liftshare is the UK’s biggest car sharing community and one of the pioneers of the sharing economy. Liftshare’s founder, Ali Clabburn, started the company 18 years ago when he couldn’t afford a train fare home from university in Bristol. He stuck a post-it onto a student union noticeboard asking if anyone was driving that way, and when he checked back the next day, had three offers of lifts. This was two weeks before Google was invented, and before the term ‘sharing economy’ came into usage.
What is car sharing and how does it work?
Car sharing is increasing the occupancy of vehicles by sharing out any spare seats. Those driving offer lifts to those who need to get to the same destination. Plenty of people do it informally already – to work, or to a football match, or to a social occasion – but Liftshare allows people to formally arrange lifts for both regular and one-off trips.
The law in the UK doesn’t allow you to make a profit from car sharing without breaching your motor insurance, and so the Liftshare system calculates a price within the legal limit for your trip. We also offer a secure messaging platform, online payments, and user profiles and ratings.
We also work with over 700 organisations and local authorities across the UK to help them encourage car sharing to their employees and residents.
Do you have a favourite car sharing story/success?
Given that we’ve been around for 18 years now, there are a few – including marriages and even children!
I think my favourite is Tim, who joined Liftshare back in 2014. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and had to go a full year without a seizure until he could drive again. The bus wasn’t sufficient to get him to work and he didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of moving house or giving up work. He registered for Liftshare, and started sharing his 40-mile commute with two other members, both of whom work in the same area. He now saves money compared to driving himself around and has made two firm friends. I think his is a story we can all empathise with – with a great positive ending!
Both our platforms exist in the world of the sharing economy. Would you explain what means to you and how Liftshare fits in that space?
Liftshare is a member of the sharing economy trade body, SEUK, and was the first car sharing company in the world to receive the Sharing Economy TrustSeal!
Essentially, all of our members driving are volunteers. They’re sharing out their spare seats in order to help others and cut down on cash and carbon. But they share more than just a seat – there’s a real social element, too. We’re often told that people make new friends, network, or even sing Carpool-Karaoke-style on their journeys!
The Sharing Economy relies heavily on trust: how do you get people to trust your platform?
Aside from being one of the first companies in the word to have received the Sharing Economy TrustSeal, we have loads of trust and safety advice on our website. We encourage everyone to message each other and read rating and reviews on members before they agree to a share. We also offer email and mobile phone verifications, Facebook login, same-sex search filters, and links through to the government’s MOT and tax checks for private vehicles.
We also have a full-time Membership Team, whose job it is to keep our members happy and secure.
The World Economic Forum has predicted that by 2030, we will no longer own ‘stuff’ – what does the future of car ownership look like?
Trends are definitely indicating that younger generations are becoming less bothered with the concept of ownership. Car clubs are already growing in popularity across the country, and we have staff who don’t own a car and instead just rent one from a car club when they need to.
That said, just because you don’t own a car doesn’t mean you can’t share one. Taking on a passenger whether or not you own your car outright still helps you save money and cut down on your emissions.
It also looks increasingly likely that autonomous vehicles will still require a license-holder to be present – so if, like me, you don’t drive, you may look to Liftshare to have someone around who can take the wheel if required!
Is Liftshare’s end goal that everyone will share cars?
We’re a mission-driven social enterprise, and our mission is simple: “To ensure that everyone has someone to share a car with”. In a perfect world, we’d have everyone sharing cars and it be a mainstream travel option for all, so that you when you log onto websites to check the train times and bus fares, you check your Liftshare matches too… and there’s someone going your way offering a lift!