Liberty Village shuttle service Line Six officially shuts down
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It's the end of the line for Line Six.
The troubled Liberty Village shuttle service, which aimed to give residents some relief from the congested King streetcar, announced it was ceasing operations Wednesday.
"We didn't make the decision easily," said co-founder Brett Chang. "We just came across a realization that the legal challenges would be too much for us to surpass in terms of regulatory issues."
Despite a successful pilot project in the fall, Line Six failed to meet its scheduled launch date in January, leaving the company's future uncertain.
Chang said their lawyer told them they could run afoul of the City of Toronto Act, which grants the TTC a virtual monopoly on public transit services.
The possibility of a court battle put Line Six in a position where it couldn't apply for funding from investors, Chang said, meaning the company would have to rely solely on customers for start-up capital.
However, Chang said Line Six only sold about 25 monthly passes.
"One of the things we learned was that people really do want to use one transit service. They want one public transit option and they just want that to be better," he said.
With that in mind, Chang and his co-founder, Taylor Scollon, have already launched their next venture, InTouchGov.com, an online platform that lets riders leave reviews of their experience on the TTC.
"Part of the reason we started Line Six was that we believe transit can be a lot better in the city," Scollon said. "And we believe people who don't work at the TTC and don't work at City Hall can help make it better."
With "a critical mass of users," Scollon believes the app could give the TTC access to granular, real-time data about how different routes are serving customers. The transit provider could then use that data to allocate its resources more efficiently, he said.
"It's Uber-style feedback for public transit," said Chang.
As for Line Six's demise, Scollon said it's time for Toronto to decide whether to allow alternative transit projects to operate or not, and if so, precisely how to regulate them.
"The city needs to make it clear where they stand on these things," he said. "And it's not clear to me that the city is looking to foster an environment where services like Line Six exist."
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