Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mitfahrgelegenheit: ridesharing

In Germany gas prices are about $8.00/gallon (here left, 1.54 Euros/Liter), which affects driving habits of course. (How much would it have to cost before you rode a bike to work? Or took public transportation?) This weekend I went to Hamburg, and the train would have cost full-price about 78 EUR each way. (The drive between Hamburg-Berlin is about the same as Duluth-Minneapolis.)

So because of these high prices (gas and train), lots of people (especially young people) do ridesharing. In the US, there is no good internet platform to facilitate this, but in Germany there is a great website called "Mitfahrgelegenheit" (opportunities to ride share) where you can enter in the starting and ending city, and drivers post how many spots they have in their car (see picture below). It's a pretty widespread practice, and I have done it quite often without any problems. Some people do it just to save money, and other people do it to meet cool people and have interesting conversation and some company along the drive (or a mix of both). My ride to Hamburg cost 15 EUR and no one really wanted to talk...the driver put the music up loud and everyone just slept or read. It was about a 3 hr drive. On the way back though, the driver wanted to talk to people, and the other riders were interesting: one Berliner, one other American (a fabrics designer from New York city), and a girl from Lüneburg who is moving to Berlin to study.

It might sound a bit like organized hitch-hiking...but you can also look for female drivers who just want other women in their car, and you can call and talk to the people before the drive to get a sense for who they are.

The girl I drove with on the way back said she no longer takes guys with her, unless they sound especially  nice on the phone. She said she once had a guy open up a beer in the back seat and she was like, "Hey, you can't do that! I'm pulling over and throwing you out..." But she was driving so she couldn't really do anything...

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