Uber might still be a pair of tail lights on the horizon, but as of today at least one ride share company has hit the road in Vancouver.
Spare Rides, created by a group of UBC graduates, works by pairing commuters with empty seats with paying riders.
CEO Kristoffer Bik Hansen says it’s a way for drivers to cut costs while taking cars off the road.
“Our whole goal is to have less people driving alone. This is all about sharing the transportation that is already available. These drivers are already going to their destinations, they’re just helping people to get around by picking people up that are going to similar destinations.””
Riders are charged a $1.50 pickup fee, then 50 cents per kilometer after that; drivers keep 35 cents/km.
For now, pickups and dropoffs are limited to the Broadway UBC corridor, but Bik Hansen says once the test phase is over they plan to expand it city wide.
But won’t the service fall afoul of the same regulations that have hung up potential competitors like Uber?
Bik Hansen claims no – because his service is more akin to a true “ride share” than what Uber or Lyft do.
And he says his company has already spoken with the City of Vancouver and Passenger Transportation Board about their service.
“So they said that as long as we don’t charge more than what’s considered operating costs of the vehicle, then we’re basically a carpooling service. It’s pretty simple.”
CKNW is still waiting for comment from the city and PTB about the service.
Bik Hansen says insurance, the other major issue that’s held up ride hailing apps, isn’t a problem for his company either – again, because of the way the fee scale is calculated.
“This is a 21st century take on carpooling, so it is possible to use this service under your personal insurance. Though we do recommend that you increase your insurance a little bit to take into account that you’re actually giving people a ride, but you don’t need commercial insurance to do this.”
ICBC says it hasn’t heard of Spare Rides, and a representative said they would have to look into the issue before commenting on Bik Hansen’s claims.
For now, Bik Hansen says there are about 100 people signed up with the app, and that they expect it to grow.
He says it’s currently only running on iPhone, but an Android version should be hitting the streets in about a month.