Finding Wheels When You Don't Have Your Own

Monday, December 8, 2014

highway-carpool-signIn 2011, nearly 16% of Calgarians and 11% of Edmontonians relied on public transportation as their primary mode of transportation. 

If you are one of them, you have probably experienced the frustration of delays, rerouting, limited taxi availability, and waiting for the bus at some point as you try to get around.  


In cities like Calgary or Edmonton, depending on the time of day, holidays, or special events such as the Calgary Stampede or Edmonton K-Days, the need for transportation varies. A limited number of taxi licenses are issued putting only a certain number of drivers on the road. This can result in many delays and backlogs – especially at peak service times.

Thankfully, ride sharing is an emerging alternative to public transportation in Alberta.

What is ride sharing?

Ride sharing is the act of sharing vehicles with other travelers.  

Types of ride sharing:

Car2GoCar2Go in Calgary allows its members to drive any one of its vehicles located in multiple locations throughout the city. Using your member card, you can drive Car2Go to your destination and leave it parked in a designated parking area once you have arrived. There’s even an app for your smartphone that allows you to not only find Car2Go locations, but also unlock the car with your phone.

POGO: An Edmonton-based company, POGO is similar to Car2Go in that users can track POGO availability on an app, use their member cards to unlock the doors of POGO vehicles and keep track of driving minutes. Cars can be dropped off in a designated area.

Carpool WorldCarpoolWorld is an Internet forum that connects individuals located in the same general area who wish to carpool. Users can post their upcoming trips and those who need a ride can contact the driver through the forum.

Share Your RideThis online forum allows people to post carpool offers or requests. There is a search bar to help you search for starting points, destinations, and arrival and departure times. Though it can be used for short distances, the majority of carpooling advertised on this website is for long distances between cities, provinces and even countries!

Ride sharing service to watch for

UBERUBER is a smartphone-based, ride sharing app that converts its drivers’ personal cars into a taxi service. Though not yet available in Alberta, the premise is that you can request a ride with your smartphone UBER app and if there is an UBER driver in the area, they will accept your request and take you to your destination. Fares are calculated and paid through the app itself.

Is ride sharing right for you?

With so many options to choose from, ride sharing is becoming an increasingly attractive commuting option for those who are looking for easy, convenient alternatives to traditional transportation. It’s important to look at the advantages and disadvantages before deciding if ride sharing is for you.  

Advantages of ride sharing:

  • Ride sharing gives you the use of a vehicle without having to make monthly payments, pay for insurance, or deal with the upkeep and maintenance associated with owning your own vehicle.
  • Ride sharing is an affordable option for families who only need a car occasionally, singles who can’t afford a car, and downtowners who need a ride from time to time.
  • Many ride sharing companies offer apps that allow for real-time tracking of their services. You don’t have to fit your schedule around public transportation—ride sharing is there when you need it.
  • Since many of these ride sharing options are app-based, there is no need to carry cash around. Car2Go and POGO fees even cover the cost of gas and parking!
  • Carpooling websites allow commuters to discuss ahead of time what payment method they prefer—cash at the end of the trip, gas money, or time split driving the vehicle. Chances are, you’ll find a good bargain!
  • Ride sharing reduces the number of vehicles on the road, leading to more efficient commutes.
  • As more ride sharing options become available, prices will become more competitive.

Disadvantages of ride sharing:

  • Some ride sharing companies participate in what’s known as surge pricing—during peak rush hour times, they can charge up to twice their normal rate.
  • Ride sharing is buyer beware. If you take a ride from a stranger you met through Carpool World or Share Your Ride, you are putting yourself at risk. These companies take no responsibility for your personal safety.
  • City cabs are licensed and regulated. Though most ride sharing companies such as UBER claim to provide background checks for their drivers, they are not necessarily licensed or sanctioned by the city. This means that they may not even be legal in cities like Calgary and Edmonton, which require all commercial drivers to have a taxi permit.
  • Many ride sharing companies are Internet and smartphone-based, meaning that if you do not have access to a smartphone app or Internet, ride sharing services may not be available to you.

Innovative alternatives to traditional public transportation are on the rise in Alberta. You might want to check them out the next time you need a lift. 

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