Canada Fines Company for Advocating Carpooling

  • Published on November 12th, 2008

Canada Has Spent Billions On Carpool Lanes, But The Courts Are Now Forbidding Their Use By An Online Ridesharing Website.

[social_buttons]The ridesharing website PickupPal (as reported in a previous post) was struck down by a Canadian court in a case brought against them by bus giant Trentway-Wagar. The company took PickupPal to the Highway Transport Board complaining that the ride-matching service fell afoul of the province’s obscenely strict ride-sharing laws which were adopted in the 1970s.

Sit down, these rules are crazy (it’s like those crazy sodomy laws no one follows):

  • You must travel from home to work only – nowhere else!
  • You cannot cross municipal boundaries
  • You must ride with the same driver each day
  • You must pay the driver no more frequently than weekly

The issue is not only that PickupPal’s site allows drivers and passengers to connect for carpooling. While it is up to the users to determine compensation, apparently the site “does nothing to check on insurance, roadworthiness of the vehicles, driving history, or anything else.” This worried the Highway Transport Board most.

As we all know that carpooling or public transport can lead to things like decapitation or movies like Speed – no one wants that. So the court ruled that PIckupPal owes CAN$2,836.07 to the province and another CAN$8,500 to Trentway-Wagar.

But Trentway-Wagar says its beef was simply that it is unfair they have to meet labor, environmental, and equipment standards to haul passengers around when services like PickupPal can arrange rides without doing any of that. Hey, I can get behind that (insert sodomy joke here).

And while your inner-hippy might be annoyed by this bump in the road, know that small (and totally unlicensed) businesses have developed around websites like this, and Craigslist. And it’s these illegal ventures that have led to serious tragedies in the past.

Image: Mr. T in DC on Flickr under Creative Commons

About the Author

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.
  • Heh, Canada is losing a lot of money again. Indeed carpooling saves gas, the environment and money!

  • Hey Jerry, thanks for the post and you are 100% correct Trentway Wagar legitimately has a concern about illegal vans trying to abuse services like ours. We keep a watchful eye out for that kind of activity and I think because of the fact that you need to create a profile on our site and therefore your activities are stored – that seems to deter people from doing it. If you are running an illegal bus service the last thing you want to do is get caught. Our angle is this – join the PickupPal community find others that are going the same way and try and reduce the number of cars on the road.

    In any event – thanks for doing a balanced piece on us and it was cool to see so many Diggs for your article.

    Cheers – Eric


  • As a Canadian, I'm ashamed. This is the province of Ontario at its absolute worst. Here in British Columbia, we had better not pull anything like that or you will see some protests. In fact, you might even see the height of Canadian agitation: several strongly-worded letters. 😉

  • Pingback: iPhone Rideshare App To Cut 73.6 M Tons of CO2 Annually : CleanTechnica()

  • That law really is awful.

  • Johnny2Bad

    Okay, first of all, I can barely understand this article. But, anyway …

    Canada has no jurisdiction on highways and the Federal Government does not pay for any roads … they are all Provincial Jurisdiction. So, we need to know what Province this guy is referring to.

    Secondly, this is about using carpool lanes, not about who can or cannot carpool, or how they go about getting together.

    My guess (I have to guess … this article is so poorly written) is that Ontario passed some laws a long time ago preventing a form of gypsy cab from using the carpool lanes, possibly due to lobbying from licensed cabs or buses. If PickupPal wasn't charging fees to do what anyone can do for free, there would be no problem.

  • Marie

    First of all, this happened in one Canadian province (Ontario), not in all of Canada. It would be nice if you could be clear about that in your article title. While you're at it, have you considered citing a source or two when you post things like this? Doing so would give you a lot more credibility. Here's one source:
    I found it when I searched Google to check out your story. It took all of two seconds.

    This is an important story and I'm happy to see people blog about it. But why not link to some news stories about the topic, cite your sources, and strive for accuracy? That would make me – and perhaps others – much more likely to vote you up at reddit or digg or those places whose links you apparently crave.

  • Lauren

    As an ex-Canadian, thanks for reason #1351 on my list of why Canada is absolutely retarded. Free enterprise much?

  • It's Ontario for the Province. From scanning the judgement, it looks like the Highway Board decided that PickupPal is in fact a commercial ride sharing business and as such, must follow the same rules as any commercial operation.

    The one thing I don't really see is any information on how PickupPal could have structured their website to actually be a website for social movement without running afoul of the Highway Board.

    I wonder what the appeal system is like for PickupPal for this – does anyone know?

  • I hadn't heard anything about this story, despite being Canadian, so went hunting. If anyone is wondering, this ruling applies to the Province of Ontario, not the whole country (although it might set precedent for other provinces). Here's the story in the Toronto Star covering this:

  • re: job

    Thanks! You might be surprised, but positive feedback is rare in the webosphere. Thanks for reading!

  • re: Lambdino

    Insert…okay, I will stop that there.

  • job

    That has to be one of the best articles I have read for a long while, short, funny and balanced. Nice.

  • Lambdino

    Insert anti-canada joke here

  • John

    This is only in one province of Canada. Not all of Canada. Your title is misleading.

  • Pierre

    oh jeez, those laws are ridiculous!

    I know that we're tired of politics, but this sounds like a good subject to lobby for…

    Shouldn't be too hard to have changed, anyway.

  • Chris

    "And while your inner-hippy might be annoyed by this bump in the road, know that small (and totally unlicensed) businesses have developed around websites like this, and Craigslist. And it’s these illegal ventures that have led to serious tragedies in the past."

    fine the offending business, not PickupPal

  • When in the Great White North, better take the bus, eh?

  • OutGrowGovt

    the province is ontario @ above.

    The problem lies within the law that you must be licensed to use public car pool lanes especially when providing a service for a fee. I dont agree with it and I hope like many BS laws people will take little notice and continue.

  • Someone

    You say 'the province' – which province?