Intercity rideshare app gaining traction in Thompson-Okanagan - InfoNews

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Intercity rideshare app gaining traction in Thompson-Okanagan

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November 03, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - While apps like Uber and Lyft haven’t been able to set roots in B.C., a Vancouver-based company has created a sort of hitchhiking app gaining usage in the interior.

HitchPlanet focuses on intercity travel, so it’s not challenging taxi companies for market share, but more directly in competition with bus services like Greyhound. It’s a ride sharing service for trips already planned spokesperson Stas Pakhomov says, as opposed to a ride hailing service.

“It’s an online market place for empty seats,” he says. “Almost like Air B’n’B.”

HitchPlanet started in Vancouver, evolving out of the ski culture as people travelled from Vancouver to Whistler. People were able to go online to find others travelling to and from the ski hill and join the trip.

According to the HitchPlanet website, the Vancouver to Whistler Route is still the most popular, though it has spread across the US and Canada. In the Thompson-Okanagan, most of the larger communities have users. In Kamloops, 75 listings are posted on the website, while 118 are from Kelowna. Penticton, Vernon, Merritt and Salmon Arm all have users advertising trips or asking for rides.

A couple simple differences between HitchPlanet and other ride sharing apps means it hasn’t faced the same scrutiny companies like Uber have. A specific difference Pakhomov cites is how much can be charged or collected.

“It ensures our members are covering costs before going,” he says. “Capping drivers at 12 cents a kilometre ensures people aren’t quitting their day jobs to drive for HitchPlanet.”

In the user agreement the company states the service is not for commercial activities and drivers may not profit from trips; the money they receive is to offset the cost of an already planned trip. HitchPlanet gets a portion of any bookings done through the service.

However, the onus is still on the those participating in any given transaction to be aware of risks and the HichPlanet terms of service does mean users agree not to hold the company liable for pretty much anything.

Pakhomov says accounts may be suspended after an issue and the policy agreement does point that out as well, but a user can sign up with just a phone number and email address. Some criticisms of Uber have been that drivers are not regulated in any way and vehicles may be improperly insured.

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