On-demand bus pilot project kicks off on Super Bowl Sunday

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OC Transpo’s experiment with on-demand bus service will begin Super Bowl Sunday with a “soft launch” of the pilot project in Blackburn Hamlet.

In a memo to council Monday, OC Transpo general manager Renée Amilcar said on-demand buses will offer service to and from Blair Station and Gloucester Centre on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on select holidays.

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The pilot project will be expanded in the future to include both weekend days.

During the pilot project, customers can book same-day and next-day trips between select bus stops in Blackburn Hamlet using a smart phone app or by calling OC Transpo customer service.

The service will use idle Para Transpo minibuses, but existing Para Transpo service won’t be affected, OC Transpo said in an earlier report to the city’s transit commission. The city owns 80 minibuses, but only 44 are needed for weekend Para Transpo service, the report said.

If the on-demand program proves successful, it may be expanded to other neighbourhoods in the city.

On-demand bus service is already in use in other North American cities as transit services search for ways to run an efficient service in the face of rising costs and falling ridership. Edmonton’s on-demand service, operated by a private company, is Canada’s largest and has seen a 50 per cent increase in ridership since it began in 2021.

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