Belleville is a little bigger than one-third the size of Guelph, but next month we’re going somewhere that Belleville’s been for a while. Since the invention of public transit, it’s been run simply by posting a map, scheduling the stops, and running buses and trains with regularity. It was static, it was predictable, and it was the simplest way we knew how to run a transit system. But is all that about to change?
Like Guelph, Belleville has a thriving local cultural base, a beloved local junior hockey team, and a very active student population thanks to Loyola College. They also have transit issues like we do. They needed to provide service to people at off hours, and they didn’t have the capacity to run a conventional service at times like Sunday evening. So what do you do? In Belleville, the answer came in the form of an experiment: on-demand transit.
The Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) proposed that Belleville team up with the Toronto-based software company Pantonium to give their on-demand transit software a shakedown. It turns out that there was an app for that: tell it where you are, tell it where you’re going, and the bus will come and get you and drop you off. It worked so well for that Belleville Transit started to roll it out to fill other holes in their system, but is it everything it’s made out to be?
Belleville Transit General Manager Paul Buck thinks it is, and this week he’ll tell you why. Buck will take us through the mechanics of an on-demand transit system, how it works, and what the buses are doing while waiting for someone to book a ride. Buck will also discuss how on-demand has changed transit service in Belleville, and how on-demand transit ended up helping Belleville Transit weather the pandemic’s effects on its budget better than other services. Plus, the future!
Let’s talk about the pros and potential cons of on-demand transit on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
You can learn more about Belleville Transit, their on-demand service and their entire transit operation at the City of Belleville website here. You can also follow them on Twitter @BUSBELLEVILLE. You can now get the details about Guelph Transit’s implementation of on-demand bus service at their website here.
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