Tips on ride-sharing in Canada
comment 2 Written by on August 24, 2010 – 4:22 pm


On Sunday I was planning a day trip to Ottawa to see a friend. The bus was going to cost me around 60 plus dollars (around £40). Or I could lift share. Remembering that PickupPal are Canada-based, I decided this was a good place give it a try.

On a very short timeframe, I set about checking the websites of PickUpPal, AmigoExpress, AlloStop and Craigslist. Here’s how I got on…


The coverage: 117 countries

The process: It’s a very easy site to use. Free to sign up. Type in your trip place (eg Montreal to Ottawa on so-and-so date), then you get sent your matches, if there are any.

The result: I got three ‘matches’, but no one replied, which was a bit disappointing. Maybe because I haven’t filled in enough details on my profile? I’ve tried PickUpPal once before, in a very last-minute attempt to get a ride to a UK festival. That time I got two replies instantly. “Sure, as long as you don’t mind listening to Kings of Leon all the way,” said one. I got the train in the end.¬† Because a friend was too. Not because of the Kings of Leon.


The coverage: Mainly Quebec. Going to other nearby parts of Canada and the US. But only in French. English version coming soon.

The process: Use the (slightly limited) options from drop-down menu to select your route, then scroll through the list of people heading your way. It’s clear and detailed. Each driver typically gives specific time and pick-up/drop-off points. You can see how many spaces are left in the car, how many times the driver has used the site before, and read reviews of them by other users.

The result: This site impressed me a lot. It seems to be a very active community so there were multiple options for my journey. One was picking people up from outside the Metro station right by my house. Unfortunately, I procrastinated and during that time all the spots were taken. I was also put off by the sign-up fee. It wasn’t much, but it didn’t make sense for one lone trip. I would, however, definitely sign up if I was staying for longer. This site has excellent potential.


The coverage: Bases in Montreal and Quebec City. Going to nearby Canadian destinations and the US.

The process: I remember¬† Allostop’s office from my 1999 stay here. This was before people were regularly online, so you’d have to drop by and look at their noticeboards instead. Unfortunately, their site is still basic today and it’s a shame they have let sites like PickUpPal overtake them. The system works like the others: type in details and you get some skeleton info of possible matches.

The result: Two options came up, but I needed to be a member to contact them. The site was a little unclear, but I think you have to go to the office to sign up, which makes it seem like they are still stuck in 1999.


The coverage: Active communities all across the world

The process: Each city has a ‘rideshare’ area. In Montreal, it’s fairly active, but, in true Craiglist style, it’s a bit of a mess and hard to search.

The result: I found someone going to Ottawa and back at specific times. It was clear that this was a business, not just a one-off. A return was half the price of the bus ticket ($15 each way, which seems to be the going rate. Although I did see some on AmigoExpress going for as little as $10). There was a phone number. I called and made a reservation for 9am the next day.


I feel a bit ashamed I used Craigslist over the others, but that’s the way it turned out. I wouldn’t actually recommend Craigslist ahead of the rest, which all have a more professional/community feel. Craiglist is very useful, but it also is a hotbed for scams and I definitely wouldn’t recommend people jump in any old car they see advertised there. So why on earth did I go with it? The very important difference is I had some background information and a review from a close friend. My housemate told me she had been to Ottawa on numerous occasions with this same guy. He was running the service as a business. Knowing it was business made me feel more assured.
When I turned up, I found I was sharing the car with a middle-age Carribbean lady (who was a regular and knew the driver personally) and two students. It all went very smoothly.

Ride-sharing is hugely popular here in Quebec, but it is advisable to be cautious. Look for reviews and you could also send the license plate number to a friend. Make this someone you know who will be cool with the idea and not paranoid. Ideally, it should be the person you are going to visit.

You also need to be flexible. Things could fall through at the last minute. If you have to be at certain place at a very specific time, go for the bus or train to be sure.

Photo: Ottawa skyline and Alexandra Bridge. Flickr Creative Commons by Intiaz Rahim

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2 Responses to “Tips on ride-sharing in Canada”

  1. When ridding in South American desert of Los Andes try . I tried them of a sweet ride tour all-inclusive style. Had to worry about nothing but having a good time.

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