Barrie Transit set to launch pilot program offering riders an on-demand service

A pilot project offering Barrie Transit riders a transit-on-demand feature is set to be launched Monday, Aug. 17, according to a presentation scheduled for city council.

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A pilot project providing Barrie Transit riders a transit-on-demand experience is to be presented to city council this coming Monday.
The project was identified in the 2020 municipal budget under new investments and service recommendations and is described as a “transit service strategy providing a new, innovative and alternative way of delivering conventional transit services.” The first phase of the project is slated to begin Monday, Aug. 17.
The idea is to develop a transit model that tailors transit use to the requirements of passengers, rather than on a conventional fixed route system. “This service delivery method is typically used during low demand time periods, in areas where there is low service demand, low density land use, new development areas and potentially in rural areas,” says the document. Identified costs range from $200,000 for 2020 to $218,500 for 2023.
Ward 4 councillor Barry Ward says the program is worth looking at, as there are parts of the city which aren’t receiving transit service.
“My ward, for example, is completely urban but the western edge, the area north of Benson Drive, has hundreds of homes which are more than 500 metres from a bus stop. They have had transit service in the past but there was not enough use to justify regular bus service. Transit-on-demand might fill the gap. It’s certainly worth trying.”
It works by combining mobile apps, which can be downloaded at app stores, web-based portals and artificial intelligence algorithms, allowing riders to request transit in real time or plan a trip later.
“A route optimization algorithm is used when collecting the booking information to ensure the bus operators are operating efficiently, while seamlessly guiding them throughout the City. It algorithm allows users to choose their pick up time and/or destination arrival time,” says the document.
Identified benefits include:
• Improving accessibility
• Improving service efficiency
• Increasing ridership
• Expanding service area coverage
• Promoting the use of public transit
• Connecting customers to main transit corridors
• Continuing to develop innovative transit services
The intent is for the pilot project to allow staff to evaluate its effectiveness by delivering it on a small scale to limit any potential disruption to the existing model.
“The project would be conducted in a way to evaluate feasibility, operations, costs, ridership, adverse events, and impact to neighbourhoods/residents. As part of the pilot project staff would be investigating the service delivery model in areas of the city or during time periods where there currently limited conventional transit service options,” reads the document.
“Staff are confident in the benefits of this service delivery model, as other transit agencies have experienced success with this model as measured through ridership growth.”