Hitch Whistler to provide cheap rides 

So you're making, like, $8 an hour in this town and you want to visit Vancouver for the weekend, but the $60 Greyhound trip basically cuts your food budget in half. What do you do?

Well, the new rideshare network Hitchwhistler.com offers round trips to and from Vancouver for as little as $10.

The site was created by Flo Devellennes, a 24-year-old website developer from France who has been in B.C. for only five weeks, as a way to provide affordable rideshares to and from the city. He had been commuting between Whistler and Vancouver frequently while working on contract for Origin Design and found that a social network was needed.

"I kept taking hitchhikers back and forth," he said," and they all kept saying it would be cool if there was an online community to get to Whistler and back from Vancouver."

He took the idea to heart. He was bored one night and decided to develop the site, into what is now hitchwhistler.com.

Members create an account, similar to any other social network, and register as a driver or a hitchhiker. Driver's can post trips to Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and Vancouver - the only four destinations so far - and potential hitchers will request to come along on that trip. The driver can then accept or deny them, depending on the hitcher's profile.

"Basically, the passengers do not get any of your (the driver's) details unless you accept them on your trip. You can check out their profile and see if they have some good feedback (from other drivers)," he said.

The website is slick and very user-friendly, though it doesn't yet have too many options for improving personal profiles. But if the service expands, it's likely that the website will improve to accommodate the demand. Devellennes said he has "tons of ideas" to improve the site.

"It's still small but I'm hoping that a few more people are going to join, and as the community grows then obviously there will be more trips," he said.

So far, only drivers can create trips but Devellennes will be adding a feature that allows potential hitchers to request a trip so drivers can arrange to meet them.

The driver determines the price, though Devellennes suggests a price of between $5 to $10 from Vancouver to Whistler.

"It's a pretty socialist system," he said, "I'm not really making any money out of it, I just want to provide a cool service so people can get to Whistler and back, and for drivers to try to make a bit of cash on their gas expenses."

The site was launched last Friday and already has about 50 members. Depending on how successful this site is, Devellennes said he might expand it to include other parts of B.C. and Washington state. He has already received several e-mails from people in Seattle requesting the service be extended down there.

 

 

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