Category Archives: City Hall

Pogo: Edmonton’s First Car-Sharing Company

Pogo car

I love Pogo. I love driving with Pogo. Pogo is good for Edmonton.

Alright, notions of  journalist objectivity now tossed aside, let me tell you about my first three months driving with Edmonton’s car-sharing service Pogo. (It’s also the three month anniversary for Pogo having cars on the road.)

As someone who doesn’t own a car, it’s been an obvious bonus to be able to grab a car if I’m running late for work, or want to get across town in a hurry. And, yes, we went to Ikea. You have to, it’s the law!

It is great to have a new option in my transportation portfolio. I ride transit, I walk, in the summer I ride my bike, I can call a taxi (ride-sharing and the Uber debate is a topic for another day), and now I can hop in a Pogo after a few clicks of a smartphone app or website. That it really is that easy makes it even better (and even a little fun).

Signing up for Pogo was easy. You do a standard contact information/login details kind of online form, slide them $35, and wait for approval within a couple of weeks. They do pull your driver’s abstract, so you’l need a (fairly) clean driving record. You get a fob or keycard in the mail and then you’re behind the wheel.

Finding a car is as easy as opening the Pogo app or website and choosing a car from a map. Cars are parked in a central zone (where all trips have to end) which encompasses areas like the downtown, Old Strathcona, 124 Street and Oliver. I’ve been lucky to always find a car within five or six blocks. For 47-cents/minute you get to drive, gas and insurance included, and can park for free (including at City meters, one and two-hour zones, and in all neighbourhoods). My only complaint is that it is easy to start driving a little too much…gotta make sure my bus pass remains worth the monthly cost!

Jeff's first Pogo
I was pretty excited to take my first drive with Pogo in November.


It makes sense that anyone who doesn’t own a car (or truck) would be interested in a car-share. The thing that  surprised me when grabbing coffee with Pogo co-founders Alexis Alchorn and Kieran Ryan (two of the five staffers) was that most of the other Pogo drivers have a car already.

“A large amount of our customer-base is people who already do own cars. We see that being one of our largest markets. The appeal is that you can have a car wherever you are at any time. There’s a convenience factor that really appeals to people,” Alexis said.

The convenience is allowing people to use Pogo cars instead of taking their own vehicle to work. And it could mean people can cut down to being a one-vehicle household (or none, but I know that still sounds a little weird to most Edmontonians).

Sitting down with Alexis and Kieran in early January, I was happy to hear how many Edmontonians have already signed up to car-share.

“We just passed 350. We’re pretty happy with that.” said Kieran. “Users are usually very keen on the service and telling their friends about it. And, it only gets better as more members and more cars come on.”

I mentioned that you can park pretty much anywhere you want with Pogo. It’s got a deal with the City of Edmonton where the company pays for parking and the drivers get to leave the car anywhere you can legally park. For free. This is unlike a lot of other car-sharing set-ups where vehicles have to be returned to “home base”, that is, a designated parking spot.

“The City of Edmonton has been working with us on parking,” Kieran said. “And politicians are being supportive. The City wants us to work. At all levels they like the concept, they want Edmonton to have a system like this. They’re very good working with us. We’re working with them to make sure there’s the least amount of friction on things like parking.”

I’ve noticed more Pogo cars recently with handy parking reminders stuck to the glove compartment, which will help us Pogo drivers remember where not to park and keep the tickets to a minimum (you are responsible if you get a ticket when you park the car).

There are some big car-share companies out there (Car2Go is in Calgary, ZipCar is another mainstay) but Pogo is different from those because it’s an Edmonton-based business.

As Kieran explained. “There’s five of us. We’re all local Edmontonians. I used to live in Calgary and saw a service come there and saw how successful and how convenient, and everything like that, and started talking [to another co-founder] ‘Why isn’t anybody doing it in Edmonton”‘. We started doing the research. What are the different components? And started rolling from there. Nine months from ‘Let’s think about this to handing the mayor a fob.”

Pogo's Kiernan and Alexis

Pogo has about 30 cars on the road now and wants to expand to 150 before the end of this year. They also plan on expanding “the zone” where you can park a car at the end of your trip. Some of that is dependent on how many people are signing up, where cars are being used, and where people using Pogo live. From the quick uptake, and the ease of use, I would guess those targets are going to be hit and you’re going to be seeing a lot of Pogo logos on the street.


Questions for you, the reader of this post:

Have you used Pogo, or another car-share? Would you?

What should Pogo drivers be known as? Pogo-ers? Pogos?

I had the pleasure of talking with Ryan Jespersen about Pogo on his radio show.
Take a listen:

Fightin’ Joe Clarke: A Great Edmonton Mayor

Looks like today is the anniversary of a full-out brawl in Edmonton City Council chambers.

I have to take this opportunity to plug a podcast series produced for the 2010 election, where we got all of Edmonton’s great, and crazy, mayors together to talk about the issues.

Don’t mess with Fightin’ Joe Clarke.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

He’d mop the earth with ya.

Downtown arena explained

This is Edmonton’s downtown now:

And this Edmonton’s downtown when the Oilers get a new arena built largely with public funds:

Any questions?


With the latest vote on the downtown arena pushing the project ahead on its “$450-million” budget I thought I would simplify the reason this project – and absolutely nothing else in the world that you could spend half-a-billion dollars on – holds the key to Edmonton’s downtown.

(Please ignore the absolute commercial and residential rise of 104 Street, the new office and residential buildings at 109 Street, expanding LRT lines, the slow improvements to east Jasper – the neighbourhood to be known as The Quarters – new condo towers and businesses on west Jasper, the city’s booming food truck scene, Capital Boulevard, and MacEwan University moving all of its campuses downtown.)


The more things change…

…the more people want it to be the same way it’s always been.

A restaurant – that I had never heard of until this story – is complaining to the City of Edmonton that the Drift food truck is hurting their business.

I posted a comment on the Edmonton Journal story, but the basic idea is that every industry fights to keep things status quo. We saw it with music and MP3s, movies and TV and streaming, news and the Internet, e-books and paper books. It’s always, always the same. Something new comes along and the fact that your business model isn’t working for people anymore, or your product or service isn’t top-notch, is never to blame. It’s always some new jerk’s fault.

If Grandma Lee’s Bakery Cafe finds its lunchtime crowd is smaller when Drift is out on 108 Street the problem isn’t that Drift doesn’t pay property taxes. The problem for Grandma Lee’s is that people prefer Drift’s food. (Which isn’t bargain basement because of their lack of property taxes. A sandwich and the best fries in the city will set you back $11.)


p.s. I’m cool with the City breaking out some clearer rules for food trucks, but it better not be an effort to appease restaurant owners. The Next Act Pub and Battista’s Calzones are getting their own trucks for crying out loud!

My comment:

“e-books aren’t the same as real books…downloading MP3s is killing the music industry…

You’d think eventually an industry or business facing competition from the next evolution, or from innovation, would just accept that things change.

I’ve never heard of Grandma Lee’s Bakery Cafe but I’ve eaten at Drift many times. Best fries in Edmonton.

Food trucks do not take business away from restaurants. They ARE restaurants. If Grandma Lee’s business is suffering, it has nothing to do with Drift and everything to do with their menu, service, and operations. As with any business.

The idea that food trucks take money away from restaurants is rooted in people fighting to keep things the way they are and always have been. If I want to sit down for lunch, and spend more than $10, I’ll go to a restaurant. If I’m rushed, want something cheaper, or just want something new, I’ll hit up a food truck.

If Grandma Lee’s can’t pay their tax bill, it’s not a food truck’s fault.”