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Allo Stop

Step up ladies and gentlemen. Here's your ticket to getting around the province for very little money (or if you're a driver, for getting your gas bill subsidized)
It's fun, it's cheap (as in $19 to get from Montreal to Quebec city) and it's very very green!

Founded in 1983, Allo Stop has been a Montreal institution for 25 years. It's basically a match-making service between drivers and passengers. So if you're driving within the province of Quebec (and we're talking longer haul trips here-- like Montreal-Sherbrooke or Quebec city-Saguenay), you might want to consider riding with Allostop. Which is to say, it's not the same concept as Communauto or a daily carpool.

So how does Allo Stop work?
1. First you must sign up: You have to show up at an Allo Stop office IN PERSON bearing valid photo ID. If you're signing up as a passenger, it costs $6 per year. Drivers pay $7 for the same period (but drivers get to make money). Oh, and drivers need to show a valid driver's license and have a trouble-free record.

2. Once you're a member, you can make a reservation: This can be done in person, over the phone or online. There's no advance notice required (but again, there's no fixed schedule, so you have to trust that one of the 60,000 Allo Stop members has a car that's about to leave for where you want to go). Passengers are given a description and license plate number for the car that will be their ride; drivers are provided with the names of the folks they're supposed to collect.

3. Pick-ups and drop offs: All pick-up and drop-off points are centrally located or near a metro station. So it's easy to get around for those who don't have wheels.

4. SAFETY!
This was the first question I wanted to ask when I heard about Allo Stop. As a glorified hitchhiker, how could I protect myself from the whole rape-and-ruin scenario? Turns out that in its 25 year history, the most dramatic story Allo Stop has to tell is one of a wedding... between two of its members. Not a single case of assault, rape or violence. They ensure this by having the following rules:
* Each car has to have a minimum of 2 seats open to Allostop members. So you'll never be stuck alone with a driver or with a driver and his friends.
* They screen folks during inscriptions. Suspicious types might be denied membership.
* Most publicity is done through word-of-mouth. And most drivers are folks who used to be passengers but have moved up in the world (and bought a car).

So about those much-touted prices:
The following are one-way fares. Round trips cost double and you can book them in advance or book each leg on the fly.

ALLOSTOP FARES
Quebec city: $19
Sherbrooke: $12
Saguenay: $36

And if you're wondering how Allo Stop makes money, here's the breakdown.
* A passenger pays $19 to go from Montreal to Quebec city.
Of this:
* Driver gets $13
* Allo Stop gets $6

And in case you were wondering how Allo Stop prices compare with weekend rates of regular car companies, I got a couple of quick quotes for weekend fares:

WEEKEND RENTAL RATES
Avis: $114.99
National: $91.65
+ $30 per day for under 24

(That last bit is probably painfully familiar to drivers between the ages of 21 and 24: you have to pay extra because the insurance companies consider you a bigger risk)

By the way, Allo Stop used to run trips between Quebec and Ontario, but had to stop doing so in 2001 because of pressure from bus companies. You can find out more here.


So let me ask you this: would you give up the comfort and privacy of a ride alone or would you consider using Allo Stop? Have you already used Allo Stop? I'd love to hear stories!
Leave me a comment or call our talkback line at (514) 597-5626

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Comments (3)

G Marshall

Tasmania

This service was an inspiration for our service in Tassie www.coolpooltas.com.au.
Great article and summing up of the awesome allostop concept and service!!!!
Bravo puis merci pour les inspirationnes

Posted August 8, 2008 08:07 PM

M Rizkallah

Ottawa

I honestly can't believe the government still hasn't re-instituted this service in Ontario. Are our laws so unjust that bus companies can stop a service like this? It seems ridiculous and ludicrous, especially considering services being offered on websites such as craigslist, google groups, kijiji, and even university ride sharing sites. As a matter of principle, allostop should be allowed to return and bus coompanies should be forced to live in a fair marketplace.

Posted August 12, 2008 11:33 PM

Suzanne Terryberry

Montreal

Your business is new to me. I am studying in Montreal at the moment but would like to return to my home in Toronto on the first of March. Do you arrange trips to Toronto?

Geeta writes:
Hi Suzanne,
Unfortunately Allostop doesn't drive to Toronto. And I'm merely a journalist (with no affiliation to Allostop). Your best bet would be to contact them directly. Good luck!

Posted February 17, 2009 06:02 PM

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