Guelph Transit Rolls Out On-Demand Transit, Ends Community Bus

It’s been a tough year for transit as ridership and revenue took a huge dip because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Is it a good time to start experimenting with alternative delivery models for transit? We’re going to find out as Guelph Transit has announced that they’re introducing an on-demand transit model this spring for under-serviced routes, and they’re looking for help to plot the best way to do it.

“On-demand differs from conventional transit in that there is no fixed route or schedule, and buses are dispatched on a request-basis. This means more flexibility for our customers as they can book a ride when it’s most convenient for them,” explained Guelph Transit general manager Robin Gerus in a statement.

“On-demand is not a door-to-door service like our mobility service, but it does run on a customer’s schedule,” added Jason Simmons, the manager of Transit Operations at Guelph Transit. “Customers will be able to schedule a ride using the free app, by phone or from our website, and the bus will pick up and drop off at pre-set locations throughout the city.”

Starting May 2, on-demand service will replace the two Community buses and the route #16 Southgate bus, and will be expanded to include a new route to the Hanlon Creek Business Park sometime later this year. Council passed an unanimous motion during the budget process in December to implement microtransit or on-demand transit options on under-serviced routes into order to implement the new Hanlon Business Park route without raising Transit’s budget.

“Not only does on-demand service improve connections to workplaces in Guelph that don’t have bus service, it improves connectivity across the community,” said Gerus. “We’re excited to provide new transportation options that make taking the bus easy, convenient and tailored to the needs of our customers.”

To get there, the City of Guelph is asking residents to help identify drop-off and pick-up locations by visiting the Have Your Say website and providing their input before February 24.

“We want to hear from our customers and all residents about where on-demand pickup and drop-off locations should be placed,” added Simmons. “This public input, along with our transit Planning and Scheduling staff expertise, best practices and the locations of existing bus stops, will help us make the best decisions on where to locate the on-demand stops.”

If you would like to learn more about microtransit or on-demand transit, the Transit Action Alliance of Guelph (TAAG) is hosting a webinar with Belleville Transit’s Manager of Transit Operations Paul Buck on Tuesday February 16 at 7 pm. Belleville implemented an on-demand transit model when the first provincial lockdown went into effect last March though they have since returned to conventional service.

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