Uber transit partnership saving Innisfil, Ont., $8M per year

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Ontario community pilots Uber as public transit plan
It's a game changer of uber proportions. The Ontario town of Innisfil is veering away from traditional public transit in the form of buses, and instead, is using ride-hailing services. Mike Drolet reports – May 15, 2017

INNISFIL, Ont. – The town of Innisfil, Ont., estimates an experimental transit partnership with Uber is saving more than $8 million per year compared to what an equivalent door-to-door bus service would cost.

Innisfil turned to the ride-hailing company last year as an alternative to a traditional public transit system, after a study determined traditional transit would be too expensive and inefficient to serve the community north of Toronto.

Innisfil subsidizes the cost of rides for its residents with Uber Canada, offering flat rates for its Uber Pool service which matches several passengers making similar trips, to certain public hubs and a discount for travel anywhere else within the community.

READ MORE: Innisfil, Ont., and Uber enter partnership to provide public transit

“Innisfil Transit has had a major impact on our community, providing residents with a safe, convenient and inexpensive door-to-door transit solution that a bus system could never provide,” said Innisfil Mayor Gord Wauchope.

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LISTEN: Innisfil deputy mayor Lynn Dollin joins the Kelly Cutrara show on 640 Toronto

The town and company said 3,400 users have completed more than 26,700 trips in the first eight months of the program.

“Innisfil Transit is seen around the world as an example of how out-of-the-box thinking, mixed with an appetite for innovation, can have a positive impact on people’s lives,” said Rob Khazzam, Uber Canada General Manager.

The popularity pushed the town’s subsidy to $150,000, or $5.62 per passenger – higher than the $100,000 estimate for 2017, but lower than the $33 per passenger subsidy that was forecast for a bus route.

READ MORE: Uber lab focusing on artificial intelligence to be established in Toronto

Uber estimates the continued growth in monthly trips will result in a subsidy cost of $500,000 for 2018, but will moderate once the base number of regular users reaches about five per cent of the town’s population.

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The town said Thursday it has signed a deal with Uber to expand their partnership by adding two new flat fare destinations.

Rides to the Innisfil ideaLAB and Library as well as the South Innisfil Community Centre will be $3.

The town has a population of about 36,000 people spread over 270 square kilometres, much of which consists of rural roads and remote areas.

Passengers can hail a ride through a mobile app and pay $3 to go to local community centres, $4 to be taken to any of the local GO Bus regional transit stops, and $5 to be taken to the GO train station in neighbouring Barrie, Ont.

Innisfil will also kick in $5 a ride for every person who wants to travel within the town to destinations other than the various designated points.

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