Stephen Rees's blog

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

Pender drivers stop for hikers

with 5 comments

Car-stop program proves a huge success

Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist

Published: Monday, May 25, 2009

It is an idea that is delightfully simple. Indeed I have heard proposals for such a system many times. There is a sign – like a bus stop – where people wait for a ride, but in a car, not a bus. Pender Island is too small for a bus service – and has a very limited range of destinations. So the probability of getting a match for a shared ride is pretty high.

Car sharing – on a pre-booked basis for commuters – has, of course been around for years. It has never been as popular here as in the Seattle area, and has not grown much in recent years. Other efforts to share rides – using the internet to connect willing drivers and people who want a ride – have fallen foul of regulations designed to protect licensed common carriers (buses and taxis). And of course those who make a living from this business are keen to intervene to stop voluntary “free” programs if they can. At the many freeway entrances there are signs stating that hitchhiking is illegal, though it still happens.

I would like to know more but so far have not found anything more than this story.  Did this program get some kind of official sanction or was the lack of official attention due simply to the absence of local vested interest? Does the sense of community on Pender help? In a place where everyone knows everybody else there is a great deal less worry about being picked up by a serial killer – or picking up a mugger or car jacker.

Most cars spend most of the time parked. The average occupancy of the cars that are moving is 1.3 per vehicle: that’s a lot of empty seats. Ideas that get better utilisation out of what we have (road space and vehicles) seem worthy of consideration. And at higher occupancies the energy demand of a shared car is comparable (volume of CO2 per passenger kilometre) to transit. 

Written by Stephen Rees

May 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Stephen,

    What do you think about collectivo idea( being applied to certain places in BC. Like for example on the island or Sea to Sky highway?

    Dejan K

    May 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm

  2. I have often said that in the suburbs we need something better than a bus and bigger than a taxi. I was originally intended that Community Shuttles would fill that role – but now they are just small buses on fixed routes.

    In a region like ours we do need integration between modes – but we also need to be able to penetrate deeper into residential areas with something less obtrusive than a 40′ bus with a Series 50 engine (surely one of the noisiest diesels on the planet). I think the use of IT can also help get service more demand responsive. The collectivo used to be known here as a “jitney” and most of our transit legislation was designed to eliminate them. The regulatory framework definitely is not conducive to innovation.

    Stephen Rees

    May 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

  3. There’s something like this in Cuba. There are ride stands throughout the country (perhaps they also serve as bus stands). Private cars and government vehicles passing by will pick people up. There are uniformed officials at every stand to help negotiate rides and keep track of which riders got there first. It is mandatory for government vehicles with empty seats to offer rides, but not mandatory for private vehicles.

    Paul H

    May 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  4. Probably don’t have to point out that car sharing, ride sharing and community shuttles/transit are all unique travel modes with their own unique traits. Throwing them all in here together confuses the story.

    The Pender ride sharing is only a more formalized version of what already happens on most of the Gulf Islands. They have the exact same program on Saltspring.

    If you live there and see someone walking while you’re driving by, especially if its someone you know well, you stop and ask them if they would like a lift. Neighbours will call each other up and ask for a ride without a second thought. People who are elderly and have issues with mobility have frequent visitors to make sure they get what they need and can get around. Its really more about the slower pace and sense of community that the islands have.

    They tried this in Ladysmith and it didn’t work out so well. People would call and arrange to meet at a designated stop. It ran afoul of some of those same regulations mentioned, but worse than that didn’t get the ridership to make it worthwhile. I can’t find the link right now though.

    Car sharing like the cooperative auto network and zip cars is used primarily by people who do not drive to work. Not commuters.

    Carpooling and ridesharing serve a different demographic.


    May 26, 2009 at 8:43 am

  5. […] to improve service but also to allow for shared rides. There’s a link to a story about shared rides on Pender Island and a useful summary of Auditing Translink which includes a lot of my thoughts on […]

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