Yukoners can hitch a ride with new carpooling website

A new carpooling website has made it a lot easier to find that perfect morning singing partner or weekend road trip companion. Yukonrideshare.

A new carpooling website has made it a lot easier to find that perfect morning singing partner or weekend road trip companion.

Yukonrideshare.com allows commuters to connect with each other based on where they live and want to go.

The joint partnership between the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse has been in the works for the past year.

Users have to register to find single trip or commuting partners, or post trips of their own.

Emylie Thibeault has already used the website to post a trip she’s making next weekend.

Originally from Quebec, where several carpooling services already exist, she said this website was long overdue.

“In a place where distances are so long between towns, a tool for ridesharing is much-needed,” she said.

But there is still room for improvement, she added.

Based on some of the features she’s seen in Quebec, she suggested a few ways the website could be even better.

Users should be able to post sections of their trip, she said.

For example, if she’s driving to Dawson City and someone is looking for a ride to Carmacks, they won’t be able to find her trip.

She also questions the site’s built-in calculator for splitting gas costs.

For example, it’s suggested that a driver charge $125 to take someone from Whitehorse to Keno City, or $83 to take two other people, according to the site.

The calculator uses the Canada Revenue Agency’s automobile allowance rates. For 2016 the rate is set at $0.54 per kilometre in the territories.

Thibeault said that’s too much and she’d rather just have the option of putting in the amount she wants.

“It’s complicated for no reason,” she said.

With Kangaride, the most popular carpooling service in Quebec, users need to pay a $5 deposit to guarantee their seat for a trip, Thibeault said.

That ensures fewer no-shows, she added.

A person’s driver’s licence also has to be validated in order to use the website.

“They should have set up a beta version of the website so we could have told them about this,” Thibeault said.

The contract to design the site was awarded to RideShark in February.

The Ottawa-based company has also set up carpooling websites for the cities of Edmonton and Ottawa.

Shannon Clohosey, manager of environmental sustainability for Whitehorse, said RideShark is always looking to improve their product and frequently makes upgrades, which would be applied to Yukonrideshare.com.

She said the site’s calculator provides suggestions only and that people are encouraged to “determine a fair sharing of costs among themselves.”

And while Kangaride allows users to leave comments and rate drivers, that won’t be a feature you’ll see in the Yukon, Clohosey said.

“In a small jurisdiction we want to stay away from public reviews,” she said.

“Anyone who has a negative experience can contact the administrator to let us know about it and we can take action.”

Clohosey said RideShark has launched carpooling websites all over the country and has already weeded out many of its bugs.

Moreover, city and government staff tested the website beforehand “to ensure smooth operations” and they welcome comments from users via the contact e-mail, she added.

The initiative is part of Whitehorse’s transportation demand management plan, which the City adopted in 2014.

One of the goals is to reduce the number of people who drive themselves to work from the current 75 per cent to 50 per cent in the next 25 years.

According to the city’s research, the population of Whitehorse is expected to grow by 15,000 people in the next 25 years, adding an estimated 36,000 more vehicles to the city’s roads.

City officials tried to get a rideshare program off the ground in 2006 but it was soon discontinued because participation rates were low.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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