Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

International ride-share website probed in B.C.

with 3 comments

Vancouver Sun

This is the Sun trying to get some local traction on an Ontario story. There the Ontario Highway Transportation Board ruled based on some very antiquated law originally designed to protect streetcars from jitneys. Our legislation treats car pools more reasonably, but even so it is not so long ago that the then Motor Carrier Commission was hearing complaints about soccer mums who share gas money, and a miner who bought an old school bus to help his workmates cut the cost of their journey to work.

The web page this morning sent out this email

Dear Valued PickupPal Member,

We have been told by the Ontario Highway Transportation Board (OHTB) to cease operating PickupPal’s online service in Ontario immediately. It is now illegal to rideshare in Ontario unless you meet ALL of the following criteria:

* You must travel from home to work only
* You cannot cross municipal boundaries
* You must ride with the same driver each day
* You must pay the driver weekly only

This is a disappointment to us as we put a lot of time and effort into trying to keep this practical and green service online for you, our valued Ontario users. We do encourage the continued use of PickupPal if you can conform to these criteria.

Please pass this information on to any friends and family who may be interested in our service or this situation –

We are encouraged that there may be legislation coming soon which may change the laws allowing PickupPal to continue operating as is.

The law that tries to protect long distance bus services in Ontario obviously needs revision. In BC it and taxis are now the responsibility of the Passenger Transport Board (successors to the MCC) but much of the old protectionism still guides the legislation. This means people who do not have cars have to rely on some very expensive inter city bus services as there is no other way. I think a regime that was designed to defend the broad public interest, in terms of ease of movement and reducing emissions, would make more sense than defending the interests of a few companies.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 13, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Transportation

3 Responses

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to cover this story.

    We would like to work with jurisdictions to come up with solutions that are fair for all. The bus companies care about their routes but anyone outside of their routes are treated as irrelevant. We care about making sure that PickupPal never gets used as an illegal taxi service or an illegal bus operation. We are organized in such a fashion to help prevent that because all of our members have an online profile and we can see if there is abuse or not. The sad part is that jurisdictions like BC and Ontario do not try and enter into a conversation to work together. My background is in Urban and Regional Planning, (UW 92), and PickupPal came out of a desire to create an effective tool to help communities leverage the Internet to offset their carbon footprint and help each other. Transportation planning is a passion of mine and it would be great if provinces saw us as an ally and not a threat.

    Any insights you may have as to who would care to have an open dialogue would be appreciated.

    Cheers – Eric –

    Eric Dewhirst

    November 15, 2008 at 1:51 pm

  2. A photo on flickr of a bus back advert shows the Ontario coach companies like to claim they are green. Except when they think their bottom line might be adversely impacted, of course.

    Stephen Rees

    November 26, 2008 at 10:23 am

  3. […] at a while ago. Then I was on about taxis but so far as I can see I have not said much about the inter city bus […]

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