Blancride doesn’t see Uber as a true competitor. At least that’s the opinion of Blancride’s general manager, Arash Barol.
Barol says the term ride-sharing was coined by Uber but he says Uber isn’t really in the ride-sharing business, saying they are more of a personal chauffeur service.
On the other hand, Blancride is focused on longer distances. Barol says, “Our business model is totally based on everyday commutes, people going to and from school or work.”
Barol also says Uber is more focused on short distances about 10-15 kilometres while Blancride is focused on journeys that are 15-35 kilometres in length.
He says, “Uber is doing a very good job at short distance and that’s not where we’re competing in any way.”
Blancride was started by Hamid Akbari, an assistant professor in strategic management at UOIT. The app first launched in beta form for UOIT students at the end of 2014. At the time, it had about 500 users.
Akbari says the idea for Blancride was sparked by his own daily commute. He says that on one of his commutes, he saw many other drivers in their cars, alone.. According to Statistics Canada, 83 per cent of the 11 million drivers on the road drive to work alone but Akbari wanted to change some of that and try to get more people carpooling.
The user downloads the free app, on either their iPhone or Android smartphone, and signs up through the app. The user will be given the option to register as either a driver or a passenger, or be both later on.
As a passenger, a user would set a pickup location and destination, as well as the time and day.
A driver would see the request and choose whether or not to pick them up. If that driver is headed in the same direction and going within five kilometres of their destination, the driver can pick them up.
The cost of Blancride is calculated via the in-app calculator which takes into account distance travelled and cost of gas.
However, with the new flexible pricing feature, users can now agree to a lower or higher price regardless of the price suggested by the app
The average cost comes out to be $0.25 a kilometre for the first 20 kilometres, $0.15/kilometre for rides of 20-50 kilometres and five cents per kilometre thereafter are used to suggest a rate through the app.
The app officially launched to the public in June, 2015, just before the start of the Pan Am games in Toronto.
Blancride now has more than 12,000 Blancriders, which is what they call their users.
Barol says that the majority of users are located in the GTA but some are in Kitchener, Waterloo, London and even a few in Kingston.
In terms of expansion, Barol says Blancride will be focused on growing in the GTA for the next four months. They will then start to expand to other major cities in Canada and eventually the U.S in the next year or so.