Halifax is encouraging people to car pool during the bus strike (Photo: Erin Meagher).

Brief

HRM's SmartTrip website taking off

Halifax’s car sharing website increasing in popularity due to bus strike

Halifax Regional Municipality's SmartTrip website has seen the number of active users quadruple in the past two weeks - increasing from 400 to 1,700.

HRM SmartTrip is a service that allows users to match their trip origin, destination and travel time with other commuters who have similar schedules. Based on their matches, users can contact other drivers or passengers and arrange a carpool.

The program also assists drivers in finding private parking spaces for sale.

Although the website is two years old, because of the bus strike, this is the most traffic the site has seen.

Slugging

Another option for stranded commuters the city is looking into is slugging - a formalized version of hitchhiking. It involves waiting for rides at a specific location pre-advertised to drivers and passengers alike. Councillor David Hendsbee suggested using the bridges as a slugging zone that the city should promote. Mayor Peter Kelly said the city must investigate liability issues first.

David McCusker, HRM's manager of traffic and transportation services says new, more user-friendly program software is expected within the next month.

He warned other organizations, like Dalhousie and CBC, which have set up their own ride-share programs, against dividing the number of drivers among various systems.

Instead, he encouraged businesses to direct people to the city's SmartTrip website - which allows users to restrict their search according to place of employment, if desired.

Users can also be matched up depending on whether they are male or female and whether or not they are smokers.

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