By Jeff Labine
With limited transportation options available, some commuters in Northern Ontario are turning to other means of getting around including ridesharing.
Travelling in the North became a bit tougher after major busing companies like Greyhound Canada continue to cut services between cities. The province is already looking to improve transportation in the region and has launched a study that will eventually become a 25-year, multi-vehicle plan. Nothing has been ruled out yet to help address the gap including bringing back passenger rail and improving inter-city bus service.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is mandated to have the project completed by 2017, which will be just ahead of the next provincial election in 2018.
Until there’s a concrete plan in place, those unable to wait for a bus or not wanting to pay for a taxi, turn to other ways to get around, including calling up Keren Winter, who offers passengers rides nearly anywhere in the Northwest as long as they cover the price of gas.
Winter, who is based in Thunder Bay, has run her ridesharing business since 2012 and explained she wanted to provide the service because some people felt they were not being treated very well by taxi companies and bus drivers.
”(People) have been mistreated by taxi drivers (and) even bus drivers have their bad days but they don’t have take it out on the passengers,” she said.
”(I started the business) mainly because of that and because my family always had trouble getting around and we could never find anyone to drive them. A lot of people from up north, the reserves, whenever they came to town (and) they took a cab, they would say they were being taken advantage of sometimes. The cab would take the wrong way . . . because they think they don’t know where they are going.”
Winter drives an SUV and at one time, can fit six passengers at a time. She explains that she has a steady flow of customers who call her up to ask for a ride. Besides wanting a more pleasant experience, she said a lot of her passengers – mostly women and First Nations – simply want to feel safer too.
— Note to readers: the full version was published in the print edition of the Chronicle-Journal.