Intercity ridesharing to the rescue: Capacity flexibility and price stability of BlaBlaCar during the 2018 French railway strike

La Chaire Recherche

Auteur(s) Timothy YU-CHEONG YEUNG
Dianzhuo ZHU
Type de publication Article

Citation : Yeung, T. Y. C., & Zhu, D. (2022). Intercity Ridesharing to the Rescue: Capacity Flexibility and Price Stability of BlaBlaCar During the 2018 French Railway Strike. Transportation research part A: Policy and practice164, 270-290.

The increased usage of alternative transportation modes during public transportation disruptions has been well documented in the literature. While many papers discuss the resilience of the disrupted mode or measure changes in the usage of various alternative modes, little research has addressed the capacity flexibility and the price fluctuations of the alternative modes—two important components of the quality of an alternative. This paper documents the capacity and price changes of BlaBlaCar during the nationwide French railway strike in 2018. We collected more than 1 million trip offers from the BlaBlaCar’s API from April to July 2018, covering 82 representative intercity routes in France. Our empirical analysis shows that, on an average strike day, the number of offered seats increased by approximately 6 %, while the number of booked seats rose by 33 %. Despite the spikes in demand, prices remained stable during the strike. We argue that the price recommendation mechanism helped maintain the price stability on the platform during the strike. The mechanism is in fact an effective enforcement of the policy laid down by the French government to uphold the cost-sharing principle on ridesharing platforms. This paper presents a case of voluntary compliance by a private company to put in place a price recommendation mechanism that in effect stabilizes prices and contributes to the resilience of the whole transportation system against abnormal market conditions.

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