Skip to main content

The concept is simple: Line 6 isn’t a transit company, but a platform that people can use to propose, crowdfund and book passage on putative new routes. If there’s sufficient interest in a route, the company will arrange for transportation with partners in the coach business.

Thinstock

The founders of Line 6 could not have picked a better time to launch a new way of organizing transportation in Toronto. The city is in the grips of an interminable mayoral election, in which the city's well-documented gridlock has taken a front seat, to the frustration of more or less everybody. The leading candidates' plans range from disingenuous to implausible to "maybe this will help in 2025."

Into this muddle step two young political communications specialists who are launching a platform for Toronto's residents to organize their own transit routes.

The concept is simple: Line 6 isn't a transit company, but a platform that people can use to propose, crowdfund and book passage on putative new routes. If there's sufficient interest in a route, the company will arrange for transportation with partners in the coach business.

Story continues below advertisement

"If there's a group of people who see a need for transit, then they should have the opportunity to organize that for themselves," says Brett Chang, one of the service's co-founders.

First, however, they've got to get off the ground, and the company is in the midst of a well-publicized launch on one trial route: A week-long morning run from the Liberty Village neighbourhood to downtown. It's a move that was destined to attract attention.

The brand-new, condo-heavy neighbourhood is close to the downtown core, but has swamped both local transit lines and roads to the point of impassability at rush hour.

To that end, Line 6 is offering a $25 pass for a five-day trial of morning runs, starting October 6. If it works out, they'll add an afternoon run. Every seat will be assigned, so there will be no more standing; the entrepreneurs will be serving coffee at the stops.

Liberty Village's notoriety as a transit disaster zone has garnered Line 6 some early attention. But their long-term vision is to build the platform into a full-bore Kickstarter-style crowdfunding operation, allowing consumer interest to drive the proposed routes.

"Any route moving forward is going to be driven by people," Mr. Chang says. "We want to see bottom-up transit planning." Like all crowdfunding ventures, Line 6 offers coach companies a way of testing market demand for a new route before launching it.

Chang, who grew up on the western edges of the city, would like to see the service provide options not just for downtown commuters, but for point-to-point transit to and from areas that the Toronto Transit Commission doesn't make it easy to reach, like his end of Etobicoke.

Story continues below advertisement

By law, Toronto's municipal government keeps a monopoly on licensing transportation services, as municipalities have for centuries, but the City of Toronto Act does make an exception for charters "to transport a group of persons for a specific trip within the municipality for a group fee," which Mr. Chang says, is precisely what Line 6 proposes to facilitate. If the municipality plans to challenge Line 6's interpretation of this clause, Chang says the startup has yet to hear about it.

The venture co-founded by Mr. Chang and Taylor Scullion; the two are also partners in a digital public-affairs consultancy. Mr. Chang previously worked for Tim Hudak, Ontario's former Conservative leader; Mr. Scollon for the office of Premier Kathleen Wynne. The launch version of Line 6 is actually built on NationBuilder, a popular platform for running political campaigns – it's what the pair knew – but they're rebuilding the site on Rails for its next iteration.

For now, though, Line 6 is focused on its test week. "We don't see ourselves as competitors to the TTC. We see ourselves as complimentary it," says Mr. Chang. "We're facing hyper-growth in this city, and we're just hoping to find a alt solution that might make commuting a bit better."

Follow Report on Small Business on Pinterest and Instagram
Join our Small Business LinkedIn group
Add us to your circles
Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter