Gains: Polly Arrowsmith saves £600 a year and cuts her carbon footprint by lift sharing to hard-to-reach events
The British summer is packed full of cultural and sporting events, from music and literary festivals such as Glyndebourne and the Chalke Valley History Festival to the Henley Royal Regatta and Wimbledon. But the cost of getting to and from them can quickly add up.
That is why a growing number are turning to lift-sharing. Event goers use online platforms, social media or word of mouth to find fellow attendees making the same journey. Then, they either offer a place in their car if they are planning to drive, or agree to be a passenger and chip in towards fuel costs.
Sarah Whelehan, 30, regularly uses Liftshare to save money on summer events. She posts details of the journey she plans to make on the website or app and fellow attendees then message her if they want to join her.
Liftshare, which has 700,000 members in the UK and Ireland, is free to use and also suggests a suitable price that the passengers should pay the driver for a journey. Members planning to share a journey can message each other in advance to decide a mutually convenient time and place to meet.
‘I use Liftshare when I’m going to concerts as it makes getting there much easier and cheaper,’ says Sarah, who is a primary school teacher from Dublin. ‘This summer I’m using it for events at the 3Arena in Dublin and Malahide Castle. It also means I don’t have to worry about parking when I get there.’
Sarah also uses the platform to find people to share her 35-mile commute from Navan to Dublin.
‘Petrol costs me about €70 (£60) a week, but their contributions mean I save €25 on that,’ she says. ‘It’s also nice to connect with other people. I’m not saying we’ve become lifelong friends, but it’s certainly made journeys more interesting.’
Liftshare says it has seen a rise in activity over recent weeks.
‘Summer is always a busy time for us, as more people are going to festivals and events, and are more open to lift-sharing in the lighter, warmer months,’ says Amy Young, community manager of Liftshare.
Its popularity has been growing over the past year due to the rising cost of living. Another 50,000 members joined last year, especially as the cost of petrol rose.
‘People use the site for one-off trips or regular commuting, and we have members saving thousands of pounds a year this way,’ Amy adds. The savings can quickly add up.
For example, a one-off journey from Bristol to the Latitude Festival in Suffolk this month would cost an estimated £71.40 in fuel costs.
Travelling by train to Halesworth, the closest station, costs £101. From there you need to pay £8 one-way for the shuttle bus to the festival. But a lift-share would cost a passenger £35.70, based on Liftshare’s suggested contribution. If four people were to share the journey, the driver would save £53.60 and it would cost each passenger £17.90.
Opera-lovers going to Glyndebourne from London can expect to spent £46.30 on return Tube and rail fares to Lewes, East Sussex, plus £18 for each of the taxi rides to and from the venue. The total cost of £82.30 compares with £34 in fuel costs if you drove. A lift-share of four people might see you pay just £13 as Liftshare’s suggested contribution – a total saving of £69.30 over public transport and taxis. Sharing lifts with people you don’t know can feel daunting. Liftshare recommends letting friends and family members know your plans, and only going ahead if you feel comfortable – even if a lift-share has already been agreed.
It says some members choose to show each other their ID, such as a passport or driving licence, so they know they are travelling with the right person.
If you are taking a lift, you can check the car’s MOT and tax status by inputting the number plate and car make into the Government website vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk. Car sharing should not affect a driver’s insurance if you are not making a profit from the trip.
Going for a song: Opera-goers save £70 each at Glyndebourne
Polly Arrowsmith, 56, lives in Islington, North London, and often uses lift-shares to festivals, training days and personal development retreats outside the capital.
‘When I go to events, I contact the organisers ahead of time to see if they know of other people looking for lift-shares, or I post a request on a related Facebook group or online forum,’ she says. ‘And while I’m at an event, I’ll ask around to see who travelled there by car to see if they’re interested in a lift-share home. I always offer to pay my way and it helps them with driving costs too.’
Polly, who works for online security firm CyberPal, recently arranged lifts to and from a book festival in Stroud in the Cotswolds in this way.
She says that lift sharing has saved her more than £600 on travel costs over the year.
‘It’s important to me to reduce my carbon footprint and this certainly helps,’ she says. ‘It feels safe as the people I lift-share with are known to the organisers or part of the community, and of course I wouldn’t share with someone I didn’t feel comfortable with.’
Polly doesn’t own a car as parking costs alone would add up to hundreds of pounds. Lift-shares allow her to go to events that would otherwise be difficult to reach.
She says: ‘There’s a retreat I go to in Essex which is impossible to get to by public transport, and there is only one local taxi, making it very expensive and hard to book.’
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