Rediff.com  » Business » BlaBlaCar enters India, assures safe inter-city car pooling

BlaBlaCar enters India, assures safe inter-city car pooling

By Surabhi Agarwal
January 15, 2015 14:25 IST
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The company, which already operates in 13 cities including London and Istanbul, claims to be clocking two million passengers a month and has recently received $100-million funding.

 

Undeterred by the controversy around taxi-hailing companies such as Uber, French car-pooling firm BlaBlaCar launched services in India on Wednesday.  

The company enables private cars to seek fellow passengers for inter-city commute. 

Drivers (who can't be taxi operators) will meet potential passengers through a portal and an application.   

The company operates in 13 cities including London and Istanbul and claims to be clocking two million passengers a month and has recently received $100 million funding.  

However, its business model might be susceptible to security risks, as its only means to check the credentials of the driver who initiates the journey is by verifying his/her social networking profile on sites such as Facebook and consumer reviews.  

 

Since a driver on the Uber network allegedly raped a woman passenger in Delhi last month, there has been a heightened sense of liability on car-hailing companies to ensure the safety of passengers.  

According to the firm, since private car owners are more interested in splitting the expenses of the trip rather than making profits by ferrying passengers, they will not qualify as a taxi.  

Raghav Gupta, India country manager, BlaBlaCar, said the company has checked with the authorities, who were supportive of the car-pooling service since it helps in city de-congestion.  

The company, which first launched operations a decade ago, received $100 million in funding from Accel Partners and Index Ventures in July last year.  

In response to questions on passengers’ safety, Gupta said it would be completely up to the driver to choose the co-traveller and the vice versa. 

“The person can look up the co-traveller’s profile online and only if s/he is convinced will they go ahead with the journey.”  

Gupta also said the company had put tracking mechanisms in place to make sure that taxi companies do not get into the system.  

Also, the rating by both driver and passenger will work as future reference points for other passengers, added Gupta.  

Given the fact that India has no regulations on car-pooling companies currently, it is yet to be seen how secure and successful this model will be.

Also, if the company will allow itself to be held liable in case of a mishap.  

The company will initially focus on routes in north India; later, it will expand to other parts.  

In the route

The company enables private cars to seek fellow passengers for inter-city commute

Drivers (who can't be taxi operators) will meet potential passengers through a portal and an application

Its business model might be susceptible to security risks

The only means to check credentials of driver who initiates the journey is by verifying his/her social networking profile on sites such as Facebook and consumer reviews

Since a driver on the Uber network allegedly raped a woman passenger in Delhi last month, there has been a heightened sense of liability on car-hailing companies to ensure the safety of passengers

 

Photographs: Courtesy, BlaBlaCars

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Surabhi Agarwal
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