People have been carpooling in France for over a half century. With over three million active French carpoolers today, it has become a popular means of mobility. Nearly 90 percent of carpool travelers use BlaBlaCar, a long-distance carpooling service, to facilitate connections between drivers and passengers, as well as transactions. Despite the popularity of carpooling, few researchers have examined who and why people in France like to carpool. Recently, researchers from UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) set out to gain a better understanding of the socio-demographics and behavior of carpoolers using BlaBlaCar.
In 2013, TSRC launched an online survey for BlaBlaCar users with the hypothesis that an online-enabled carpooling service attracts a relatively diverse population, and the socio-demographics of its users reflect the various uses of carpooling. Here are five key takeaways from the study findings:
– Compared to the overall French population, the median income level of BlaBlaCar users (between $20,173 and $26,896 USD) is very similar to the rest of the population ($23,546 USD in 2010).
– BlaBlaCar users tend to be highly educated; 72 percent received a university degree compared to 30 percent of the general population of France.
– 45 percent of respondents were under the age of 35, and another 42 percent were over 45, which still skews considerably younger than France as a whole.
– Carpooling users are more likely to live in rural areas, with 33 percent of respondents living in lower-density municipalities compared to 14 percent of the larger French population.
– Lower-income respondents were more likely to be passengers, while higher-income respondents were more likely to be drivers.
This study helped to develop the profile of the average BlaBlaCar user in France, but additional research is needed to understand how to grow carpooling into other socio-demographic groups and assess carpooling’s effect on the environment, namely greenhouse gas emissions. While carpooling is considered the oldest shared mobility option and other ridesourcing/transportation network company models often overshadowed it, it will continue to maintain a notable modal share as it evolves and the industry develops new technologies.
To read the full report, follow this link and to explore more research in shared mobility, please check out TSRC’s website here. This study is also featured in the newly released book: Disrupting Mobility, which is available for purchase.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.