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Go to Canada for $40? Uses the Web to Make Ride Shares Safer

With summer travel inflating the price of transit, it's worth looking into alternatives. A Canadian website called Kangaride matchmakes passengers and drivers with affordable ride shares in both Canada and the United States. Anyone who has extra space in their car and a road trip on their calendar can pick up some extra cash by picking up an extra passenger.

Drivers set the prices, which are listed online from the get-go. Current offers include a ride tomorrow from Montréal to New York for $40, Detroit to Houston for $115, and Miami to Sherbrooke, Quebec, for just $90. A membership to Kangaride costs just $7.50, and a booking credit to secure a seat is $5. After that, you pay what the driver sets out as their price, which you can do by credit card via the Kangaride website. (Prices are always listed in Canadian dollars, which is currently nearly equal to the value of the American dollar.)

Unlike bulletin board-based ride-share systems and Craigslist gambles, the Kangaride system is designed to take much of the risk out of it, and as its staff assures us, "Customer service is our priority."

Site staff pre-validate driver's licenses and drivers and passengers alike are rated by other users, so if they use the system often, everyone is aware of past experiences. Should a passenger not show up for a scheduled ride, there's also a central call center that operates from 9 am to 9 pm daily where drivers can make sure they haven't phoned in as running late. (I called to test it. They answered!) Negative reviews receive follow-ups from Kangaride staff.

Kangaride says it now has 150,000 members, but it wants to expand its usage in the United States.

Another website, Slingride, provides a similar service within Canada.