By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Feb 21, 2018
Squamish Mayor and council have been patiently waiting for a day when BC Transit will announce a dedicated bus service connecting all Sea to Sky communities.
They could talk to Flo Devellennes in the meantime.
Flo runs a carpooling company called Poparide and he wants to work with the district of Squamish to provide a better transit options for those who commute to the city. He recently wrote a letter to Mayor Patricia Heintzman asking for support on how the both could work together.
“We’d like to be fully sanctioned by the municipality and recommended as a transit option between Squamish, Vancouver and Whistler,” Flo said.
He said car sharing companies like Modo and Evo have partnerships with the City of Vancouver to get preferential parking and are listed as official transit option on the city’s website.
Poparide aspires to have a similar relationship with Squamish and other municipalities in BC. Having the district throw support behind the project will increase the awareness of the service but also give weight to the transit option.
“Down the line, we’d love to have some official pick-up and drop-off spots provided to ensure a smooth carpooling experience for all our members,” he said.
Flo was inspired to write to Mayor Patricia Heintzman after he saw her interview on CBC about transit challenges faced by Squamish.
Flo migrated to Vancouver from Europe in 2010 and was surprised to see the lack of public transportation between Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler.
“After picking up several hitchhikers on the Sea-to-Sky, I decided to take matters into my own hands and build a website to help people share rides. HitchWhistler.com was born, and for $20-$30 it offered a return trip and helped drivers with their gas expenses,” he said.
Eight years later, the company has evolved from HitchWhistler to Poparide and now operated across Canada with over 80,000 members. The company’s biggest routes are Vancouver – Squamish – Whistler with over 1,200 trips posted a month, he said.
The corridor, he said, has some of the strongest demand for shared transportation that the company has seen in Canada. With an estimated 18,000 vehicles driving the highway every day, there is plenty of opportunity for more carpooling, he notes.
“It doesn’t require any additional infrastructure or funding, it’s environmentally friendly and it builds community. It also reduces drivers’ commuting costs and provides people with an affordable means of transportation,” he said.
A one-way trip between Squamish and Vancouver costs $8. Flo is meeting with the Mayor soon to discuss how the company can work with DOS to increase people using carpooling as a viable transit option.
Flo has a simple message for the Mayor: “We have a solution that works: it’s ready now, it’s built and run by passionate people based in Vancouver, and all it needs is your support. Help us make carpooling part of the social fabric of Squamish.”