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When the Acadian Lines buses stop running on November 30th, many students may be left wondering how they’ll get home for the holidays. STU students with parents out of the province, or even a couple hours away, often use the inter-city bus company to travel back and forth for school breaks and long weekends.
Nathalie Arsenault, outreach and communications co-ordinator of Maritime Rideshare, says her company provides an alternative method of travel, suited to students. It launched during the Acadian Lines lock-out last winter, and kept on growing.
“Even after the holidays, even after Acadian Lines came back, people kept using it,” Arsenault said.
She based the idea off of successful rideshare programs she saw in Quebec.
Drivers can post rides they’re offering on the website, and passengers can post the rides they’re looking for. You can search the site for rides only going to your destination. They’re then listed in chronological order of departure, rather than in random order, like on kijiji.
Arsenault and her team of entrepreneurs don’t make any money from the website yet, but they’re trying to raise $18,500 to improve the site’s safety and add more features. Some of the features include online payments, user profiles, and driver ratings.
“You could rate them on punctuality, or safety of the driving, or if he’s a friendly driver. That kind of thing.”
There are Maritime Rideshare Facebook pages for Fredericton, Moncton, P.E.I., and Halifax. This way you can see if you have any mutual friends, so you’re not hitching a drive from a complete stranger. Arsenault hopes creating user profiles on the site will increase safety, by allowing users to review the drivers and post them online.
On Thursday, Trius Tours announced they submitted a bid to run bus routes between New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, once Acadian Lines shuts down. If successful, they will run routes equivalent to the service Acadian Lines provide.
Even with the bus system up and running, Arsenault believes there is a need for rideshare in the Maritimes.
“The bus, for example, if you want to take it from Charlottetown to Halifax, it will take you eight hours. Where as with rideshare, it can take you four and a half hours,” Arsenault said.
“It’s really a lot more efficient.”
It’s also more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient. A graphic on the website shows a trip from Charlottetown to Halifax costs $63.50 by bus or $65 by shuttle. Based on the last 70 trips posted on www.maritimerideshare.com, the average cost for the same trip was only $26.88.
“I think there’s a need for [rideshare], whether there’s a bus running or not.”