B.C.’s first ride-hailing service is on track to roll out in Tofino over the next couple weeks.
Dylan Green said his new ridesharing app called Whistle! will release on Feb. 1 in Tofino with four drivers and on Feb. 6 in Whistler with 10 drivers.
On Dec. 16, the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) approved an application from Green Coast Ventures Inc., owned by Green, to operate in Whistler and parts of Vancouver Island, excluding the Capital Region District.
Green’s application is the first ridesharing licence to be issued by the PTB. To date, the PTB has received 29 ride-hailing applications.
“Tofino, Ucluelet, Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton are all small towns, but we have the world visit us on weekends and holidays,” Green told the Westerly at a Tofino Whistle! Ride Job fair on Jan. 16.
“The transportation demands on our small towns are so great that no transportation company can keep up. We struggle with it every summer,” he said.
According to a recent report released by Tourism Tofino, the small beach town of less than 2,000 residents hosted an estimated 600,000 visitors in 2018. Tofino’s lone taxi driver was not available for interview as they are on a “much needed vacation” until Feb. 3.
READ: Tourism Tofino says visitors generate $240 million annually
Similar to other ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, Whistle! passengers can only book and pay via the app or website. There is no street hailing or phone dispatch. Whistle! is capable of calculating fares that account for minimum rate, distance, and time. The ride-hailing app then processes the passenger’s electronic payment and transmits an electronic receipt. Fares will be similar to taxi rates.
“The goal is not to replace taxis. It’s to increase inventory and help out,” notes Green.
Whistle! drivers are required by the provincial Ministry of Transport to have a Class 4 restricted licence and provide an ICBC driving record. Drivers must complete a police record check and a vulnerable sector check. Whistle! vehicles must be less than 10 years and one month old and they will undergo a vehicle inspection.
In terms of vehicle insurance, all drivers have to do is convey to their auto insurance provider that they are a Whistle! driver for Green Ventures. The company covers the insurance from the moment a driver accepts a ride and starts driving to the pick-up and they cover while the passenger is in the car until drop-off.
“If anything happens, it’s all covered by our insurance,” said Green.
Currently there is no fleet capacity on ride-hailing in B.C.
“The whole idea is you want to get as many locals to drive because then they can just drive when it works for them. On a busy Friday or on their way to work, so you’re not really adding cars or more congestion, you’re just using cars that are already on the road and might be going somewhere,” said Green. “I think it’s going to be exciting for locals to really brainstorm on what ridesharing can really do.”
Whistle! is not the first transportation venture for Green. In 2002, he started Tofino Bus as an inter-city bus and charter service and expanded it in 2014 to include the entire Vancouver Island. Green sold Tofino Bus on Nov. 15, 2018 to Greater Victoria-based Wilson’s Group.
READ: Wilson’s Group acquires 16-year-old Tofino Bus service
“I knew that my skills operating Tofino Bus could be really valuable. I learned how to operate a small business in a regulated industry. With ridesharing, the rules are actually a bit more open so you can actually start to solve real transportation problems,” he said.
“It’s really the first time that locals can use their own car, which is happening so naturally. You see it on the Facebook groups. This is finally the first legal way to do it.”
Whistle! currently has a launch promo underway to attract drivers. Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to visit: www.whistle.ca.
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