Sharing is Caring – Unless You’re in Ontario (Then it’s Just Illegal)

Painfully-outdated bureaucracy: 1. Ride-sharing: 0.

Greg Andrews reported back in August that Toronto-based ride-sharing site PickupPal was accused of violating carpool laws in Ontario. Today PickupPal has been officially dealt a blow by the Ontario Highway Transportation Board – ridesharing in Ontario has been deemed illegal unless very specific criteria are met. The travel must be from home to work only, municipal boundaries can’t be crossed, you must ride with the same driver each day, and you must pay the driver no more than once per week. PickupPal was fined just over $11,000 for facilitating a ride from Toronto to Montreal, where the driver was paid $60. This was an unfortunate win for Trentway Wagner bus company and an embarassing ruling for Ontario. Billions have been spent on carpool lanes, so in the spirit of ineffective bureaucracy let’s try to keep as many people out of them as possible.

Fortunately, the Ontario Government has put up a proposed amendment to the law, which right now states that anyone offering a ride to strangers and charging a fee must have a special licence and insurance for operating a ‘public vehicle.’

“Encouraging more Ontarians to carpool is part of Ontario’s plan to reduce harmful emissions, ease traffic congestion and fight climate change. That is why the proposed legislation also includes measures to remove the existing red tape associated with forming carpools in Ontario,” Transportation Minister Jim Bradley annouced in October.

Good intentions aside, it hasn’t yet happened and PickupPal is left with a hefty fine for trying to do a good deed.