Kootenay RideShare, a part of the real sharing economy!

Kootenay RideShare, a part of the real sharing economy!

Forget Uber or Lyft, Kootenay Ride Share is where it’s at!

If, for whatever reason, owning and operating a personal vehicle is not possible for you, your transportation options are going to be limited. This is especially true if you live rurally. Public transit is infrequent and unreliable, walking and cycling may not be feasible or just downright dangerous, passenger rail is for the rich and famous and good old Greyhound ceased operations altogether in 2021. How are you going to get around?

Taxis are one option, although they can be expensive and many small towns don’t have them. Then there is Uber or Lyft. Both are ride-hailing apps, and both offer an affordable alternative to taxis. To hail a ride, a user opens an app on their phone and enters their destination, reviews ride options such as type of vehicle, price, and timing, picks an option and then confirms the pickup. Essentially, the app facilitates matching the rider up with a driver. The convenient thing about these apps is that the driver doesn’t need to handle any money. The monetary transactions are made in the app, usually with the rider’s credit card. Both Uber and Lyft charge fees for this matching service and drivers are paid by the company via the fees collected from riders.  

Uber, alone, operates in over 10,000 cities worldwide. It is the largest ridesharing company worldwide with over 150 million monthly active users and 6 million active drivers and couriers. This gives riders a lot of options. The drawback is that drivers don’t actually make that much money. Uber earns a lot of profit without owning any cars. According to Indeed, the average Uber driver’s salary ranges from approximately $34,648 per year for a delivery driver to $60,735 per year for a driver. Drivers are still responsible for the cost of the vehicle. And companies like Uber actually make traffic worse, not better. 

That’s where Kootenay Rideshare steps in! The ride share network is part of the real sharing economy, unlike Uber or Airbnb which are actually extractive economies, Kootenay Rideshare is designed to minimize the impacts of travel across the Kootenay region and beyond. As of November 2018, Kootenay Rideshare surpassed 10,000 users. It’s becoming an important piece of infrastructure in the new sharing economy. 

Kootenay Rideshare is an interconnected system matching riders with drivers throughout Canada and the US. The Rideshare app is totally free to use for drivers and passengers and it helps to reduce carbon emissions by facilitating shared transportation. Plus, meeting new people and travelling with company is fun! Of course, it does not share nearly the size of network that Uber or Lyft has, but it can be a convenient, affordable option if you live in Kootenays or within one of the many new nodes added since it launched a website and mobile app in 2016. The best part is that this ride share network was specifically designed to meet the needs of rural residents in the Kootenays. There is a Selkirk College node for students commuting to different campuses and a Whitewater node helping skiers find rides to the hill. 

I have used Kootenay Rideshare to find rides to destinations outside the region a few times. But, recently, I used the app to find a rider. I needed to make a trip to Calgary. It’s a long 7 to 8 hour drive. Fuel prices really start to add up, costing on average $130 to drive one way. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an extrovert and enjoy company so, I gave it a shot. Kootenay Rideshare suggested that the rider should pay $60 from Nelson. I set it at $50. Within 30 minutes of posting my ride, I received a message. I agreed to pick up a fellow from Cranbrook on my way. The experience was seamless. We agreed on a time and I was provided with an address. I was able to message the rider upon arrival in Cranbrook. His company helped make the trip go by quickly and enjoyably. I only asked for $25 since the rider did not travel the whole way with me. He promptly paid cash. Once in Calgary, we were able to determine a drop-off point that was convenient for both of us. At no point did the experience feel unsafe. Users are rated and the app protects your private contact information. I will definitely be using this app again whenever I need to make a solo trip or have extra seats in my vehicle.

If you are a driver, ride sharing can save you money. The average cost of car ownership in 2024 — which includes gas, parking, insurance and car maintenance — now totals $1,387 each month, or $16,644 annually, according to a recent report from Ratehub.ca, an online Canadian financial comparison platform. Ridesharing can help you offset those costs because passengers contribute gas money!

Ridesharing reduces your emissions - emissions produced from transport fuels are a major contributor to climate change. Transportation is responsible for close to 70% of emissions in the Regional District of Central Kootenays. Ridesharing with one other person basically reduces a commuter's emissions by half. Kootenay Rideshare post statistics on emissions reductions here. You don’t have to drive far to see the savings. Even sharing your drive from Nelson to Castlegar will help reduce the cost and save emissions. 

Ridesharing reduces traffic congestion too. According to Kootenay Rideshare, 80% of cars on Canadian roads are single occupancy vehicles. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) reports that traffic volumes on Highway 3A between Playmore Junction and Nelson have reached close to 11,000 trips per day! Rideshares help reduce the number of cars on the road  making travel safer and less stressful for everyone.

Ridesharing helps build community. Meeting new people and traveling together helps build relationships and connections in your community. Offering rides is important for those who don't have vehicles or can’t drive but need to get to work, school and other destinations. This is especially true in rural communities like ours where public transit is infrequent. By sharing a ride you are helping your neighbours and perhaps making new friends on the way.

The modern conception of car sharing, ride-hailing, carpooling or ridesharing is playing a key role in the mobility transition. These are among the latest trends in finding innovative ways to get around affordably. It’s making an impact on mobility in both cities and rural areas. These new forms of mobility all aim to make transport more efficient, save resources and relieve traffic congestion. 

In fact, ridesharing or carpooling originally began as a conservation method to save rubber, gas, and wear-and-tear on vehicles during the Second World War. In the 1940s, before computer databases and automated matching, the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense operated a Car Sharing Club Exchange and Self-Dispatching System. We have come full circle, using ridesharing as a method to reduce emissions and traffic congestion but, now we are aided by a convenient digital database making ridesharing a safe and affordable option. 

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