New Brunswick

Maritime Rideshare fundraises to fill transit gap

A team of entrepreneurs is hoping to fill the gap in public transportation in the Maritimes after Acadian Lines shuts down in November.

Acadian Lines shutting down in November

A team of entrepreneurs is hoping to fill the gap in public transportation in the Maritimes after Acadian Lines shuts down in November.

Nathalie Arsenault, who co-founded a rideshare program when Acadian Lines locked out its workers in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island last December, is now looking for investors to help improve the service.

Maritime Rideshare is an online site that matches drivers with passengers in the region.

Arsenault is hoping to raise $18,500 to better market the service and to beef up the website’s security.

"In order to really make this work we have to have pretty much all Maritimers using it so that you know — well, as many people as possible, so that you can have a lot more rides that are offered to people so that you can have more flexibility in your schedule and that sort of thing," she said.

Arsenault says new security features will allow her to verify drivers’ licences and will allow passengers to rate drivers

"So, for example, if you drive with Joe LeBlanc from Moncton and he was a good driver, you can give him, you know, a 4.5 out of a five-star rating for his driving ability, or, you know, you can rate him on punctuality, or that kind of thing."

It will be similar to eBay, she said.

So far, Maritime Rideshare has raised about $1,000.

Acadian Lines only inter-city bus service

Acadian officials announced last week the company will no longer operate in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. by Nov. 30, saying government rules make it difficult to turn a profit.

Acadian Lines is currently the region’s only inter-city bus service.

Under the Motor Carrier Act, which regulates buses, Acadian currently has exclusive rights to the routes it operates.

Transportation Minister Claude Williams has said the provincial government has no plans to set up a publicly-funded bus system or to provide companies with subsidies. But regulations could be changed to encourage a sustainable bus system and to allow for fair competition in the private sector, he said.

The Acadian Lines lockout, which started Dec. 2, left Maritime travellers stranded and students scrambling for alternatives.

Maritime Rideshare, which had been in the works for a couple of years, was launched earlier than scheduled to help university students get home for the holidays.

The Acadian Lines shutdown interrupted service in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as part of the service in Nova Scotia and connections between Nova Scotia and Quebec.

It also affected parcel service.

The company locked out workers after the two sides failed to reach a new contract despite11 months of negotiations.