EDITORIAL: A lucrative opportunity

How many times have you needed to travel, and haven’t been able to get a ride?

Luckily, I own my own vehicle. But, there are times I would prefer not to drive, like when the roads are icy and slippery. Plus, the cost of gas can deter my decision to travel out of town, especially when those prices skyrocket in the summer.

Some people aren’t as fortunate as I have been, and require transportation to make it back and forth from medical appointments. From Golden, there is a medical bus that will take them twice a week to Cranbrook and back, but it doesn’t cover healthcare needs outside of that region. Some people are referred to specialists in Kelowna or Calgary, and must arrange their own transportation in either of those directions.

In Golden, we have a large population of seniors, who might require a safe method of travelling often to get out of town for appointments or whatever else.

Ever since the disappearance of the Greyhound, people have been left to sort out their transportation issues by themselves. A lot of the time, the only way to tell there is a need is on the Golden Rideshare Facebook group. The number of users there has increased, and the number of posts are multiplying all of the time.

As someone with a lot of experience hitch hiking, I can say one thing for sure: It is unreliable, and can be unsafe. Even hopping in a car on a rideshare can be unpredictable and unsafe. As travellers, we suddenly have to put our trust in someone we have never met, and travel together. These trips can be short, or as long as eight to 10 hours, sometimes more, depending on where you’re going.

Rider Express comes through town once a week heading west, and comes back through the next day heading east. I’m happy there is one option, but the once-a-week service it offers isn’t suitable for everyone. There are other options, if you can get yourself to Kamloops or Kelowna, or to Lake Louise. From Kamloops or Kelowna, you can catch the Ebus, which heads west to Vancouver. In Lake Louise, I’ve heard of people hopping on the Brewster Tours bus (by booking in advance I’m sure), to get east.

A few months ago, I had a friend coming to visit. She flew in from Vancouver to Calgary (since there aren’t any simple solutions to busing across the province), and we had a crazy time trying to get her from Calgary to Golden, and then back again. Luckily, on the way home, there was a rideshare leaving on the morning of her return at 6 a.m. We got her ready, and sent her off in a car with someone she didn’t know, and in an unfamiliar place.

It’s really surprising that more companies haven’t chomped at the bit to get a service going. I can’t imagine how lucrative the opportunity could be.

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