Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Ride-share applications pile up to operate in Whistler

The Whistle! ride-share service has been out of operation since January, leaving an opening in the local market
Whistler’s first ride share operation—Whistle!—is no more, but applications for new ride shares are already piling up.

Ride-share services could soon once again grace local roads, with one local putting up his hand to return the sector to Whistler, and two others also putting in applications with the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB).

Tyler Eardley, who was involved with the currently-paused Whistle! ride share app that operated locally between 2019 and January 2024, has applied to the PTB for a passenger license to fill the space last occupied by Whistle!.

“There’s an opportunity for someone else to apply, and so I’ve put my name into the hat with the support of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and [Mayor] Jack Crompton, and the support of the Tofino council and all the drivers,” said Eardley in an interview with Pique.

Eardley said he has drivers formerly associated with Whistle!, and the knowledge of the local market to get it all going again quickly.

“It’s all ready to go, all we need is a licence to bring it back to Whistler,” he said.

The RMOW wrote to the PTB to support Eardley’s application in January, and his efforts to get the ride share back up and running were before the board as of early February.

The previously operating ride share, Whistle!, was launched in 2019 and operated in Whistler and Tofino. Its ownership changed hands in 2022, and Eardley said its passenger licence expired late last year, leading the PTB to force it to cease operations.

Austin Zhang of Green Coast Ventures, which owns Whistle!, confirmed that’s what happened in an interview with Pique.

Zhang explained a previous employee with Green Coast Ventures responsible for administrative items like insurance and licencing left the company, leaving the duties to him, but because he wasn’t listed as the typical point of contact with the PTB, his communications were landing in a junk folder.

“I was asking the PTB to renew our licence, but they didn’t receive our email, so that’s what happened. The licence accidentally expired,” said Zhang.

Asked whether he is working to return Whistle! to the Whistler market, Zhang said “100 per cent,” and that he is attempting to get the process sped up because of the number of employees and contracted drivers the company has.

“I submitted all documents, I told [the PTB] we had 13 employees over there and they are losing jobs—I was trying to help them,” he said.

Zhang added Whistle! is working to retain its drivers with wage subsidies of 20 per cent of their regular earnings while the company is not active—as long as they sign on to return to Whistle! when it starts up again.

“Hopefully we can get approval as soon as possible, because everything’s ready,” he said. “Once approval gets back … we can restart in an hour, or two hours.”

With Whistler (and Tofino) without a licenced ride-share service, there are two applications before the PTB for a new licence, along with Whistle! also trying to restart.

Eardley, who was employed by the original owners of Whistle! and stayed on with the new owners, has since struck out on his own—and there’s a similar, competing application to operate in the same zones before the PTB from a Vancouver-based business Zhang said is unrelated to Whistle!, and is listed only as a numbered company.

“I hope they can give it to us, because I believe we can run it more sustainably and stably,” said Eardley.

“There’s so much nuance in running a business in Whistler, knowing the staff, knowing housing—I think it’s quite challenging to run as an outsider. There’s an advantage to being a local and running it as a small business.”

Eardley applied for a ride-hail (or Transportation Network Service) licence on Feb. 7, while the competing application is from Jan. 24. The deadline for submissions related to Eardley’s application was Feb. 20.

“[Ride share] was used quite a lot by people who use the transit system. People who have a bus pass might miss a bus and then just call a Whistle! instead,” Eardley said.

“It marries up well for people that don’t have a car as a backup, or as a once-a-week service to go get groceries.”

Even if successful, Eardley said there is a long way to go: Whistle! as an app is owned by someone else, so he would be starting from scratch. His application before the PTB is to operate as “Go Ride.”

“If it does get approved, it’s going to get approved in mid-March, so we’d be starting in the dead season which is not really a viable time, so maybe it would have to be delayed until summer,” he said.

As far as Whistle! goes, he said there are no hard feelings.

“It’s just what happened, I’m just trying to bring the service back,” he said. “The service is needed for the village.”

Zhang also said there are no hard feelings about the competition.

“Everyone has their own ambitions … We will see if [Eardley] can get it—that’s good, we can work together maybe later,” he said.

While it was Eardley’s request that prompted the RMOW to write to the PTB supporting ride-share services, Crompton told Pique in an email the RMOW is generally supportive of any ride-share options for Whistler.

“We are supportive of transportation options that offer our residents, employees and visitors viable, safe, convenient, affordable travel within Whistler,” he said.

“Ride-hailing is vital for our community’s tourism and nightlife, complementing taxi and transit services to ensure we can move about the community quickly and safely.”

Crompton said ride-share services also complement the RMOW’s environmental goals by offering an alternative to vehicle ownership, which is why the RMOW agreed to write to the PTB supporting applications bringing operators back to Whistler.