Carpooling in Germany

Hello everyone,

In order to move around in Germany, you will have to spend time on the road; for your work commute, to drop your children off at school or for everyday trips. Carpooling could be the right option for you. We would like to know your views on carpooling as a means of transport, and whether it is a practical and cost-effective option.

Is carpooling and cost-sharing common practice in Germany? What about the regulations in force?

For which types of journey does carpooling seem more suitable in Germany? How much is the cost of a carpool trip?

Is there an app or other means available to connect people looking to carpool? How do you find other carpoolers?

If you are carpooling in Germany, what precautions should you take to travel safely?

According to you, what are the advantages and disadvantages of carpooling?

Thank you for sharing your experience,

There are several sites in Germany for this. The best known is You can carpool for longer distances.

Leonie00 wrote:

There are several sites in Germany for this. The best known is You can carpool for longer distances.

Would highly reccommend blablacar have used it several times now, has proved a very economical way to travel long distances for me as I do not own a car

There are two kinds of car sharing in Germany:
- The abovementioned blablacar and similar sites (there are several) match drivers, who travel somewhere with empty seats in the car, with wanna-be travellers for the same route. You pay a site fee, plus a share of the petrol and other costs to the driver - it typically works out to around €10 per 100km and is therefore a cheap way to travel. However, since drivers and passengers are not vetted (and don'tr know each other), it is never an entirely safe method (and feel out of fashion in the last 20 years).
- Organisations like Stadtmobil, Car2go and similar offer their members cars for use as and when they need it. There is  typically a (small monthly) membership fee and additional charges per use (by the minute or kilometer). It is relatively cheap if you only need it occasionally within the city - and you can always book the kind of car you need (say a Smart to go to town, a van for your house move). This method is wildly popular and more and more people use it instead of having their own car.

Hmmm. Back when I lived in the States, the word carpooling was used as a concept of a regular if not daily thing for people going to work or school along the same route. Finding riders for a longer trip could also be called car-pooling but was usually referred to it as ride-sharing. Not sure if the usage of the words has evolved since then. Very different thing to organize a regular thing than an occasional one-off trip. In Germany I haven't really heard much of car-pooling but it would be a personal thing if one just happens to have neighbors that share the same route. But since public transportation is so much better in Germany than the States, it is not a big deal here.

Ride-sharing however has a tradition in Germany, especially amongst young people like students. Most cities at least used to have a place called a Mitfahrzentrale or ride-together-center which would match people offering and needing rides. I took some riders many years ago and then gave up on it. The problem is that one had to negotiate a time to meet, which usually meant a compromise to my actual wishes and then a number of times the people simply didn't show up. In the end, the amount of money involved didn't outweigh the inconvenience. It can be a way to meet people but who knows if you will like them. And the likelihood of finding just the right amount of people wanting to go to just the same place at the same time and day is pretty hit and miss. I remember one time taking a couple of people from Stuttgart to Munich but their destination was somewhere much farther. They didn't find someone going there so we got matched. So when arriving in Munich I had to drive out of my way to get them to the main train station and they had to continue the rest of their trip by train anyway. It was not really convenient or cost-effective for any of us.

Blablabla cars is such a Mitfahrzentrale and seems to be active in a number of European countries. Never used it myself but see no reason it would be any better than what was offered in the past. If everything really fits for all involved then OK, but I personally wouldn't bother with it. Flex-bus, or  booking train tickets well in advance for a discount price or getting group tickets can be similar in price and more reliable.

Beppi mentioned Stadtmobil andCar2go. These are not ride-sharing but car sharing organizations. It is more or less renting a car but one joins the club and then goes online to reserve a car when one needs it. They are alternatives to owning one's own car – not to share rides per se. I am a member of Stadtmobil, so if I really need a car rather than public transportation, this is where I get one.

Thanks, Tom, for clarifying thge differences between car-pooling, ride-sharing and car-sharing. I learnt something new today!

beppi wrote:

Thanks, Tom, for clarifying thge differences between car-pooling, ride-sharing and car-sharing. I learnt something new today!

Like I mentioned, I have not lived in the States for a while and it is possible the usage of the words could have evolved somewhat - and how they are used in other regions or countries I can't say. But I thought the concepts have enough distinct differences that they should be better clarified to make sure people are talking about the same things. I think things like car-pooling are very sensible strategies to lowering traffic and pollution but wouldn't be much of a subject in places if they would just build adequate public transportation systems.