Well we got our ruling from the Ontario Highway Transportation Board (OHTB) and they say that it is illegal to Rideshare in Ontario, (here is the official decision [PDF 0.98 MB]).
The only way you can ride with someone is if you meet ALL of the following extremely impractical set of specific criteria:
- You must travel from home to work only – (Not Home to School, or Home to the Hospital or the Airport)
- You cannot cross municipal boundaries – (Live outside the city and drive in – sorry you cannot share the ride with your neighbour)
- You must ride with the same driver each day – (Want to mix it up go with one person one day and another person another day – no sorry cannot do that – must be same person each day)
- You must pay the driver no more frequently than weekly – (Neighbour drives you to work better not pay her right away just in case she drives you later on in the week)
I know you are reading these restrictions and are saying to yourself that there is no way it can be this strict, but unfortunately it is. PickupPal was charged and fined for facilitating a ride from Toronto to Montreal for $60, the crime – our PickupPal member crossed municipal boundaries. How much did we make off of this ride - nothing 100% free as always - how much were we fined $11,336.07, (and that does not include our own legal fees to defend PickupPal in court).
Our issue all along has been with the Ontario Government and that the laws need to change. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in the 104 Countries that PickupPal has members in that has this type of antiquated laws about citizens traveling together on the books. Because of all of the attention that we have brought to this issue the Ontario Government has tabled an amendment to the definition of what constitutes a Pubic Vehicle. What they are in effect doing is bringing their transportation laws in line with the rest of the Provinces in Canada and jurisdictions around the world. We applaud the government for suggesting these changes however the legislation has not been amended yet and there is still a chance that it may get dropped.
We urge all PickupPal members and Ontario residents to voice their concerns with the Premier to ensure that the amendment passes. Tell Dalton McGuinty how you feel HERE and make sure the government does not go back on their word.
So the next question that must be asked is how does PickupPal plan on moving forward. First and foremost let us be clear, PickupPal operates around the world and we have no intention whatsoever to suspend our service to our thousands of members worldwide who rely on us daily. As it relates to traveling in Ontario we are sending out an e-mail notification to all of our members in Ontario informing them of the OHTB decision. We are also putting a notification on our website to everyone traveling in Ontario that they must abide by the current carpooling laws. We are looking into ways to determine which rides comply and which do not and will be implementing a system to inform those that they are in contravention of the law.
Having gone through this struggle to have the laws changed and to fight for the environment I am asked regularly if I thought it was worth the hassle - and my answer is a resounding YES! I am so proud of all the people who signed the petition, wrote articles, told their friends, sent us notes of encouragement and support giving us the courage to fight this fight. Because the bottom line is that if we want change we have to fight for it and if the government is not going to help then it is time that we stand up and fight for our right to try and find solutions to stop global warming and get people double up and cut down on CO2. We may have lost this specific battle but if the law gets changed then we have won the war and that is what counts at the end of the day!
Cheers - Eric