City of Whitehorse statistics show there are currently 224 active users of the Yukon Rideshare program. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Low traffic: Yukon Rideshare sees limited use since 2016 launch

‘Nobody knows about it, nobody uses it’

The Yukon Rideshare program, an online service that connects passengers, drivers and commuters across the territory, has only 224 active users more than a year after it was launched.

According to statistics from the City of Whitehorse, which partnered with the Yukon government to launch the program, 741 people have signed up for Yukon Rideshare since April 2016 but accounts are automatically deleted if they’re inactive for several months.

“I’m not actually sure what the target was when this program was initiated,” said Glenda Koh, environmental coordinator with the city’s Department of Planning and Sustainability Services. Koh said the city had signed a three-year contract with tech company RideShark to provide the program’s software, website and help line at the cost of $6,000 a year.

“I think the idea was to see how far we could go in three years and then make a decision about continuing (the Rideshare) from there…. I would say that we’re fairly happy with the uptake so far,” Koh said.

RideShark also launched an app for the program in early 2017. As of Friday morning, it had approximately five downloads on the Google Play Store (the number of App Store downloads was not immediately available).

Koh said she’s a Yukon Rideshare user herself, and gave a Spanish tourist a ride to Haines Junction last year.

“This being Yukon, we happened to know the people she was staying with both in Whitehorse and Haines Junction and it was a very easy and pleasant experience,” Koh said. “I was happy to fill that extra seatbelt in my SUV and at the end of the ride, she invited us to visit her in Spain.”

Currently, the majority of active Yukon Rideshare users are clustered around Whitehorse, according to city data, with a smaller number of users in Marsh Lake, Carcross, Carmacks and Dawson City. As of Friday morning, there were three single trips posted to the website: one from Whitehorse to Dawson City, another from Whitehorse to Haines Junction and a third from Dawson to Whitehorse.

Not all Yukoners are sold on the program, though.

Dawson resident James Boddi, 37, said he created a Yukon Rideshare account last fall when he was living in Carcross, posting his commute to Whitehorse as well as individual trips to Dawson and Mayo on the website.

“There was no response whatsoever,” Boddi said, recalling that there was “very little activity” on the website in general. Between the time he joined Rideshare and this summer though, Boddi estimated he’s given at least 40 rides to people he found through other means — mainly, hitchhikers.

“Rideshare is always a good idea. It gets people to carpool, it’s better for the environment, it gets people to and from places when they’ve got limited means…. I just find that the development of this rideshare website is kind of redundant,” Boddi said.

“(Using the website is) a tad more inconvenient than using social media because everybody’s on it, and it’s definitely way more inconvenient than just going out to the side of the road and sticking out your thumb.”

He added that he hasn’t met anyone else who has, or had, a Yukon Rideshare account.

“Nobody knows about it, nobody uses it,” he said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com