The story of Liftshare – Part 1

Liftshare has had some pretty impressive achievements since it was born almost 19 years ago.

For a start, the site currently has over 450,000 active members. By matching drivers with lift seekers, Liftshare also facilitates approximately 1 million shared lifts a month, thus preventing around 25,000 extra tons of CO2 from being released into our atmosphere.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Our typical commuter saves over £1000 a year by liftsharing. The platform has also been the source of hundreds of new friendships, thousands of great conversations and many, many jokes shared (some great, some…to a particular taste). It has also helped many access jobs that they could not otherwise commute to. We know this because you tell us.

So how did this all come to be?

When the Christmas holidays came round in 1996, Ali Clabburn – a young student at Bristol University – realised he didn’t have enough money for the train fare back to Norfolk.

Convinced there must be others driving in a similar direction, he pinned a message on a student notice board, asking if anyone could give him a lift. The next day, he returned to find three offers of a ride home – and so the idea of Liftshare was born!

Ali’s interest in sharing was sparked at an early age. As the youngest of four children, he grew up in an environment of enforced sharing! But as he reached his teens, he became aware of sharing on a broader scale – and recognised the immense potential of a global sharing economy.

A keen traveller, he often found himself experiencing the generosity of strangers in foreign countries. In particular, Ali has always been struck by the common sense of sharing transport – and the illogical approach to travel in the UK, with the single-occupancy car still being king.

Determined to start a transport revolution in the UK, and help people overcome the increasingly prohibitive cost of travel, 23-year-old Ali founded Liftshare in his final year at university.

In the early days, he also did a spell of early morning shifts in the Virgin Money post room, to cover basic costs and learn how Richard Branson keeps his team smiling.

His sister had left home, so Ali squeezed into her old bedroom to set up his first office where – with the support of a handful of unpaid friends – Liftshare was created.

So that’s the start of the Liftshare story. Stay tuned for part 2!

Author Lucie Boyle


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