As the cost of traveling from city to city continues to put dents in wallets, people are turning to carpooling for cash as a way to save time and money.
After reading your story, I think you want to say something like: regardless of the legal issues that have arisen with rideshares, this underground industry is alive and well? There’s nothing really new about the lead you have and it doesn’t synthesize your story.
Ridesharing is a popular and cheap way to travel to and from major cities in Canada and the U.S.
But rideshares have long operated in a legal gray area, where questions about insurance in case of accidents and disagreements over payment can arise.
Drivers will post on popular, classified websites such as Craigslist and Kijiji where they’re driving and when they’re leaving, along with a phone number to contact them.
Passengers call to arrange a pick up time and the driver will usually ask for payment at a halfway point or upon arrival, and then leave their passengers at major public transit areas, such as Scarborough Town Centre in metropolitan Toronto.
Costs for rides vary, but a typical trip from Ottawa to Toronto costs $30, while Ottawa to Montreal costs $15, both far less than going rates for trains or buses.
However, with the cheap costs can come with risks, such as a driver over-booking a trip, or not showing up at all.
But despite the risks, rideshares remain popular, especially amongst students.
Sammantha Parrott, a student at Carleton University, has taken about 15 rideshares from Ottawa to Toronto or Montreal and she said for the most part, her experiences have been pretty good.
“Drivers can be jerks sometimes, and once a guy tried to charge me for two seats because of luggage, which was crazy because it was just the two of us in the van,” she said.
As a student, Parrott said rideshares are her preferred way to travel.
“I think it’s more comfortable compared to a train or bus, and it’s definitely the cheapest,” she said.
RIDE-SHARING TO MAKE SOME CASH
David is a university student who used rideshares as a way to make some money.
“When I eventually purchased my own car, I decided I could do this on weekends versus working as a fast-food rat for minimum wage,” said David, who did not want to be identified due to rideshares’ hazy legal status.
David is originally from Ottawa. While studying at Concordia University he would book 3 passengers for the ride to Montreal and back.
“Gas cost about $25 at the time for the trip, and it took me about 3.5 hours, so I was making roughly $18.50/hr just for driving a car,” he said.
David said most of his passengers were students and he never had any real problems.
“I made some friends out of it and sometimes our group would really click and it turn into a bit of a road trip adventure,” he said. “I was really happy with it.”
Some online services have sprung up that attempt to facilitate the process of finding drivers and passengers. PickupPal is a Canadian website that launched in 2008. It makes the process a little more transparent by giving members profiles and showing trip itineraries.
But PickupPal ran into legal trouble after Trentway-Wager, an Ontario bus company, sued under the Ontario Public Vehicle Act. (PickupPal lost the case and as a result the provincial government also (need a bit more info here)placed certain restrictions on carpool vehicles, which rideshare vehicles fall under.
The restrictions limited carpoolers to trips to and from work only, riding with the same driver every day, and paying by the week as opposed to per trip.
Ontario Highway Transportation Board ruled against PickupPal and fined the company $11,000 and issued a cease and desist order.
However, an amendment to the Public Vehicle Act in 2009 changed the definition of carpool vehicle. The new definition allows for carpooling or ridesharing if the trip was being made anyway and taking passengers is incidental to the driver’s purpose for the trip, as well as limiting the payments from the passenger to driver for operating expenses only.
The “new definition that more adequately reflects the realities of today’s transportation environment,” Bob Nichols, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, wrote in an email.