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Regina, Saskatoon looking to app to pilot on-demand transit service

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WATCH: The City of Regina has put forward a proposal to pilot on-demand service for Route 10 Normanview-RCMP.

Taking the bus in northwest Regina could become more like summoning a rideshare and less like conventional transit.

City staff have put forward a proposal for a pilot project to operate Regina Transit‘s Route 10 Normanview-RCMP on-demand between 7 p.m and 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday from the end of April until the end of August.

It was endorsed this week by community and protective services committee but still needs council approval.

“We’re ready for it,” the city’s transit director Brad Bells. “It has the potential to grow to areas of the city or maybe the entire city.”

Regina and Saskatoon have been in discussion with the City of Belleville in Ontario, which has been using the On Demand Transit app developed by Pantonium Inc. for more than a year to deliver this type of service.

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According to the report that went to community and protective services committee, ridership in Belleville increased by 300 per cent and kilometres travelled decreased by 30 per cent.

Bells said Regina selected the Normanview route for the pilot because the two buses operating on the current fixed route — which travels from RCMP depot division through Pioneer Village, Cathedral and downtown before going up through North Central and Rosemont toward Normanview — are typically quite empty in the evenings.

Using the On Demand Transit app, riders would be able to book a pick-up time at any bus stop in the catchment zone at night, even if it’s not one the 10 frequents on the fixed route.

The catchment zone for the Route 10 on-demand transit pilot project.
The catchment zone for the Route 10 on-demand transit pilot project. Courtesty: City of Regina

Disability advocate Carla Harris, who relies on Regina Transit to get around, thinks the Normanview-RCMP route is a smart one for this pilot project.

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She noted many of the neighbourhoods it travels through are high-density and some are lower income.

Having on-demand service will open up doors for some of the city’s more marginalized populations, she said, adding that based on her own experience, many of the jobs that they may want to seek are part-time and/or shift work.

“You can’t apply to any jobs as a waitress or waiter or serving,” she said. “None of the people that work at places like hospitals or any type of care unit that would be 10- to 12-hour shifts, none of them can take buses to and from works.

“This is large groups of employed people who are making potentially smaller amounts of money at their jobs… something like a transit opportunity to go to and from work would provide them with a huge difference.”