New ride-hailing company now open on P.E.I.

·3 min read
P.E.I.'s new ride-hailing app Kari will also allow customers to order food delivery, snow clearing and dog-walking services.
P.E.I.'s new ride-hailing app Kari will also allow customers to order food delivery, snow clearing and dog-walking services.

(Travis Kingdon/CBC - image credit)

There's a new option available for some people on Prince Edward Island looking for a drive.

Kari is like Uber or Lyft — rides are booked and paid for using an online app designed on P.E.I., and users can't hail a Kari ride from the street.

The service is now serving Charlottetown, Montague and North Rustico.

"One of the biggest reasons that we wanted to start this company was to sort of address some of the impaired driving issues that are not only frequent in town, unfortunately, but also all over the Island," said co-owner Len Currie.

"Hopefully we can get some of the impaired drivers off the road, give them an option in these rural areas."

'Not a big commitment'

The company, formerly called RedRide, has been working to get up and running for the last two years. It launched just before Christmas.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

Drivers use their own cars, and sign up to give drives when they can. Kari covers insurance costs for its drivers. Cars must be built within the last 10 years, have four doors and less than 250,000 kilometres on the odometer. Drivers must be 25 or older.

The company is looking to expand across P.E.I. and is looking for more drivers.

"These are part-time drivers that want to make a little bit of a difference," Currie said. "It's not a big commitment, on the weekends if you're available maybe you can drive somebody home from the local legion."

The company requires two things of its drivers — a clean background check, and a new, special government-issued driver's licence. That newly created licence is what makes this work, the company said.

Introduced by the province in 2019, the Class 4 restricted, or 4R, licence allows drivers on P.E.I. to become licensed to drive others. The licence requirements are a good driving record, a medical test and a vision test.

Tentative thumbs up from city

The City of Charlottetown said because this isn't a traditional taxi company, its extensive taxi bylaw doesn't apply.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

But Kari has had conversations with the city to make sure everyone is on board with what it is doing.

"They seem to be very responsible in their approach to what they're trying to do," said Deputy police Chief Brad MacConnell.

The city had joint discussions with Kari and city taxi owners that could be affected, about how they might work together and to clarify what the company is all about. MacConnell said those discussions were "respectful and positive."

MacConnell said Charlottetown is looking at creating its own rules for ride-hailing services in the city, and plans to keep an eye on how Kari is working out, as well as looking at how other municipalities regulate such companies.

The Kari app also offers snow-removal booking, dog-walking and food delivery.

"Our app, we want it to be more like a Yellow Pages of services you can order," Currie said.

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