Experts are calling it a Ridesharing Revolution. Pop Rideshare is here!
A time in which disruptive technology is helping make our commuting lives a lot less stressful. Where smartphones, GPS, mobile apps, and electronic payments seamlessly connect drivers with passengers, creating a smooth, cost-effective commute. Pop Rideshare is here!
Location, Location, Location
Though the ridesharing technology is new, for Squamish locals (one-quarter of whom commute daily), travelling to work isn’t.
When Michelle Nerima, a Digital Media Strategist, moved to Squamish 18 months ago, she bought her house specifically because of its proximity to her rideshare pick-up location.
She commutes four days a week and juggles the popular ridesharing app, Pop Rideshare, with the Squamish Connector shuttle, and Vancouver’s public transit, to get to her office near Burnaby.
“The rideshare app is so easy to use; I use it every day. Because of this app I ended up finding two new carpools, and they are the sweetest guys who pick me up and at my door and drop me at my door. If it wasn’t for that app I would never have found them.”
Through the Pop Rideshare app, Nerima is able to connect with drivers travelling the same route at the same time, arrange a ride in advance and even take care of the payment.
A good commute, she explained, takes between 60 and 90 minutes and, though the traffic can slow things down, she wouldn’t have it any other way, she explained.
“I love my job and I love where I live. Through ridesharing, I get to have both.”
Travelling without Moving
The Commuter Bus
Jessica Evans, a Project Manager in Gastown, has been commuting for the past three years, and also lives close to her rideshare pick-up location (she occasionally bikes to the City too!).
Though it’s about 12 hours between leaving the house and returning, the game changer for her, she explained, has been the ability to work during her commute.
Work Instead of Drive
“I tether up my phone to my laptop and work on the bus, which means I can get in a really solid day’s work when I commute. If I do some 9 to 10 hour days while commuting, on the days when I work from home later in the week I might perhaps do a six-hour-day later so that I can get out and play—because that’s why I live in Squamish,” she said.
The Beauty of Being a Passenger
There are also surprisingly beautiful moments within the journey itself that simply come through living where we do, she explained. Moments you might miss if you were driving.
“There was one morning where there were clear skies and the full moon was just setting…on the whole way to work, the moon kept peeking behind the mountains and valleys. It was an awe-inspiring moment that you wouldn’t normally associate with a work commute.”
And then there’s the moment you arrive home.
“When I step off the bus at the Adventure Centre, the Mamquam Blind Channel is right there.
There’s just the smell of the willow trees or low tide and I realise I’m back in Squamish. It makes me so happy.”
The Workforce Wagon
A 2011 census identified that 26% of the workforce in Squamish commutes to work, explained Kate Mulligan, Economic Development Officer at the District of Squamish (an update on these numbers is expected this November).
Though it’s unclear whether they’re commuting to Vancouver, Whistler or Pemberton, the route between Squamish and Vancouver is definitely a popular one.
So much so, that Pop Rideshare (which operates throughout North America) has identified it as their second biggest route, explained Stephen De Hertogh, Operations Manager. Not only are the total number of passengers commuting this route second only to the number commuting between Whistler and Vancouver, he explained, the rate at which this number is increasing is greater than anywhere else.
“Squamish is a really good commutable area from which you can go in quite a few good directions,” he said, and added that in addition to commuters, tourists and weekend warriors also use the ridesharing service.
Why it Works
An Old Idea
Though apps such as Pop Rideshare have helped spread the rideshare revolution, the notion isn’t new.
In 1942, during World War II, the U.S. government required ridesharing arrangements in workplaces when no other transportation options were available, in order to save rubber during the war. And in 1970s, the oil crisis and spike in gasoline prices encouraged another period of ride sharing.
Financial savings (parking, gas and car maintenance) are still a great reason to rideshare, but it’s also a great way to a great way to meet people, explained Nerima.
Connecting with People
“You’re always meeting new people and finding out about places to go,” she said. A fellow passenger once recommended a local restaurant which she’s since tried and loved. “I didn’t even know it existed! I’ve also found out about fairs going on in town that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”
By simply commuting together, you already have something in common with the person sitting next to you, said De Hertogh.
“Everyone who’s used our platform has met new friends. We’re just waiting for our first wedding invite!” he joked. (De Hertogh is now firm friends with someone he once gave a ride to and subsequently hiked the Chief with.)
And with Pop Rideshare’s prices capped, passengers can be assured that no one is making a profit from driving. Although it’s not always about the money, he said, and explained that one of their top drivers from Squamish offers rides to help reduce the number of cars on the road.
“One of the biggest things that I’ve learned through ridesharing is how much of an outdoors community Squamish is,” explained De Hertogh.
“People here are spreading the word about Pop Rideshare more than anywhere else. They are outdoors people who care for their community and their environment, which I think is why the word broke out so quickly.”
And though studies have shown that commuting long distances can sometimes decrease civic engagement, explained Mulligan, this isn’t necessarily the case with Squamish.
“Squamish is a growing family community with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. People that are attracted to Squamish want to preserve what makes it attractive to them, so it makes sense that there is such enthusiasm and support for the community,” she said.
While ridesharing options such as Pop Rideshare and the Squamish Connector taking the needs of commuters into their own hands, the District continues to advocate improved transportation options, to help strengthen the connection to Metro Vancouver (making Squamish a more attractive community for a wider range of businesses).
In the meantime, while nurses leave for St. Paul’s and VGH, Operations Managers head to Cypress, and parents drop children off at daycare in North Vancouver while they work in the City, there can be some comfort, perhaps, in knowing you’re not the only one up before dawn.