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Carpooling in Canada? You're Breaking The Law!

Carpooling is a really good idea. It saves gas, money, the environment ... But if you live in Ontario, Canada, it is also illegal.

Well, here's the story of a startup company called PickupPal, who wants to make it easier for people to find others traveling to the same place and carpool there:

Great idea, right? Wrong. The bus companies freaked and sued under an Ontario law that limits carpoolers to traveling only from home to work and back, riding with the same driver every day and paying only by the week, among other restrictions. This is despite the fact that the government has spent “billions” in carpooling lanes.

Anyway, the court case was decided and PickupPal lost. They were fined CA$11,000 and forced to keep that despicable carpooling activity within the strict limits of the law

TechCrunch has the story: Link


As a student, I use the bus on a daily basis to and from school. I think I've seen these carpool ads like this on busses here in Vancouver, Canada. I'll see if I can find it tomorrow morning...(in 3 hours haha).

But I am extremely dissatisfied with the fact that bus companies in cities have monopoly over all public transportation. It means that the lack of competition gives public commuters (consumers) no choice but to pay to a certain bus company whether they like it or not. If there was a competitive market of some sort, then we would likely see more improvements in the current public system since they would have to fight for their consumers rather than have us walk right into their hands.
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http://www.translink.bc.ca/Commuting_Options/ridesharing/

Something similar but I guess the bus company has alot more control over the carpooling (and profits).
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Nope ted, there really is a law against arranging carpooling in Ontario. If my buddy needs a ride to Toronto, and my neighbour is driving to Toronto tomorrow and will take my friend for $20 to cover gas, if I give my buddy the phone number of my neighbour then I'm breaking the law.

The same thing happened with AlloStop.
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Somehow, I think the disadvantages of having multiple bus companies in the same city (having to deal with multiple schedules, and varying coverages, etc.) would outweigh the cost savings of a single, contiguous system.
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Ted, Algonkin - not a hoax, and no, you aren't missing any part of the story. That crap actually happened. I remember it quite vividly because it was so ridiculous.
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Not a hoax. Bus service in Canada is pretty much a Greyhound monopoly due these BS laws--and no it's not always more efficient to have only one company. Without competition, prices are always high and seat sales are unheard of. Really pissed me off in the 90's when they shut down the ride share service Allostop, which I used a lot between Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto. Fact: Canada is over-regulated in some sectors and it definitely hurts the public, especially here, since distance buses are usually relied on by lower income folks, students etc. You won't find cheap tickets. Ex: Ottawa-Montreal (a 2 hour ride) is $36.30 one way, no discount return and Ottawa-Toronto (5 hours) is $76.85 one way. Riiiip off! And don't even ask about train ticket$$$. Try Craigslist... but even there people will try to gyp you because they know there are no other options.
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1. Jimbo, be nice now. Troll be gone, listen to the space man.
2. I live in Ontario and it may be a law (albeit one that I've never heard of) but it's not as if people don't carpool in spite of it. It's kind of like one of those "no spitting" or "No riding hoses downtown after 4pm" laws.
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How are they going to know if you carpool unofficially? If you give the number of your buddy to your friend, who agree to ride together, they stop for gas and the passenger pays for gas instead of the driver, who would know?

This is a law that's begging to be rewritten. To an extent, I can understand the bus companies not wanting competition from an outside company, but to completely outlaw casual carpooling is ridiculous.
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Ok...well you're close. Carpooling is 100% legal. What isn't is accepting a fee for the service, the same as any city in the US or Canada. You are not allowed to organize a group of people who will each pay you $5 a day to take them to work. That would clash with cabs and busses. If you want to do it for the fun of it, you're perfectly allowed. The only money that can change hands is for gas.
Your description of it makes it seem somewhat unique up here, almost FOX news kind of reporting.....
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This is really bizarre considering the 401 Hwy now has a carpool lane as well as the highway in Ottawa so you'd think they'd encourage it.
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Carpool lanes exist to keep kids off the streets.
Parents need to drive places, but traffic is bad. Kids left alone with nothing to do can lead to mischief. So special lanes were built to get parents to drag their children around, keeping them out of trouble.
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I live in Ontario as well as some other posters here. The story as it's written/reported here, makes the carpooling issue seem so ridiculous, sensationalizes it, and is taken out of context. Please check your facts.
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I still stand by my original statement:

"That story is probably missing a lot of details. Never heard of any laws against car pooling."

And yes, I think any story that would report otherwise is sensationalistic and wildly inaccurate.
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Yeah the Public Transport folks here in Ontario seem to think monopolizing over the system means they can get away with anything.
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Thanks Ando for the update. Humm... I'll have to research this. It's obvious that you know what you're talking about because I live in Ottawa, and it's true what you say about prices from Ottawa to Mtl. What a rip off.
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Oh, too bad you didn't check this out before publishing. Sort of makes me wonder about more of the Neatorama posts. Have a look here for the real explanation:
http://moneygrubbinglawyer.com/2008/11/13/get-it-right-carpooling-is-still-legal-pickuppalcom-is-not/
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