What’s the difference between uberPOOL and Liftshare?

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You’ve no doubt heard of Uber, but stay tuned for their latest ridesharing offering to hit the UK, as uberPOOL launches in London this Friday. The taxi giants are allowing people to formally share their cab rides, and we look at how this differs from normal liftsharing. Sharing taxis makes a lot of sense if you want to save money and can’t find someone to give you a lift. You can pick which suits best for your next trip!

Uber isn’t in my hometown. So where can it be used, and where can I use Liftshare?
uberPOOL is only launching for journeys to and from central London and Heathrow Airport, so won’t suit all journeys. Liftshare’s trips feed through from Google Maps, and so can work to and from any place listed – including the entire of the UK. Of course, this includes London and Heathrow too!

Map showing Liftshare journeys available to and from Heathrow Airport
Map showing Liftshare journeys available to and from Heathrow Airport

Does anyone use anything other than the tube and taxis in London anyway?
You’d be surprised! Liftshare have up to 50,000 seats available every day in London, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – it’s estimated there’s a whopping 12.6m seats free in cars across the capital every single day! With taxis booked, the underground crowded, and public transport full, the only option that seems to still have availability is cars.

Which is cheaper?
uberPOOL offers a 25% discount on your Uber journey, even if you don’t manage to find someone to rideshare with. This can make for a great-priced cab journey, dependent on their pricing at the time. But, Uber drivers are still making a profit, so compared to the petrol-contribution-only costs of Liftshare trips, they cost more. Liftshare can be up to 90% cheaper than an Uber ride, so sharing is definitely the less expensive option.

Are both sharing economy companies?
In short, no. Uber is a profit-making trading company who don’t remove traffic from the roads. Although the new uberPOOL service will allow people to share a journey and reduce costs, it still makes the company a profit, and so is peer-to-peer trading rather than true sharing. Liftshare, however, doesn’t allow its drivers to make a profit – they’re just people going that way anyway – and so does reduce the number of cars on the roads.

Are there the same legal concerns on liftsharing that there is on Uber? Do taxi drivers dislike liftsharers?
Legal concerns around Uber are because they’re operating as an on-demand taxi service, and not because they’re encouraging people to share. The legislation around taxis in the UK doesn’t directly apply to Uber, and so it’s this that has been a challenge. If the legislation is to be updated, Uber’s position may change, but for the moment, it’s operating completely legally. On the other hand, Liftshare isn’t an on-demand service – the person is making the journey with or without passengers anyhow, and so isn’t affected. This means Liftshare isn’t competing with taxis. Indeed the British Government is keen to encourage the sharing economy to flourish!

How does insurance work with carpooling?
Getting a lift with someone through Liftshare doesn’t make the driver profit, and so doesn’t affect the hire and reward portion of their insurance policy. Even the ABI (Association of British Insurers) support liftsharing, and mention so on their website. As Uber has commercial drivers, the level of insurance cover passengers have varies. Whilst covered by a wider commercial policy, an Uber driver may or may not have public liability insurance, so it’s worth checking before you book a ride.

I need a ride and it’s pretty last minute. Which is my best option?
This all depends on how last minute you’re talking, and where you’re going. Lots of Liftshare drivers don’t mind quite a late booking, but you do need to give them time to see your booking, respond, and get to your pick-up point. For an on-demand on-the-spot service, a taxi or Uber would probably work better, but of course this too depends on what rides they have available.

Can I still carpool in a liftshare?
There can definitely be more than one of you sharing, if the driver has the room! Drivers list their available seats on their trip, so you can see how many of you could fit. In this respect, you could even fit in more than uberPOOL will allow – as it’s capped at no more than three sharers. You can book more than one seat at a time, so still take your friends with you!

Ben has two seats still available for his journey
Ben has two seats still available for his journey

Which is the more eco-friendly option, uberPOOLing my ride or liftsharing?
Exact stats on Uber’s impact on the environment remains to be seen, but there’s been some pretty damning speculation. It doesn’t look as though Uber is actually reducing the numbers of cars on the roads, as people would only be using another taxi if they couldn’t book an Uber. Liftshare, however, simply cuts the number of cars by stopping two vehicles make a journey if it can be done in one, making things greener by reducing emissions and congestion!

Who’s the bigger company – Uber or Liftshare?
Uber operate globally and as a taxi service, have seen huge growth. However, Liftshare remain the UK’s biggest carsharing community, working with both the public and over 700 businesses to run carsharing schemes. In number terms, Uber are bigger – but both are big players in their respective games.

If you have any questions or comments on the launch of uberPOOL in London, or would like to know more on how it works compared to Liftshare, get in touch at @Liftshare or e-mail superheroes@liftshare.com!

Author Lex Barber

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