Three Canadian cities are experimenting with On-demand Transit and the results so far are encouraging. Belleville turned to on-demand transit in an effort to provide service to its industrial area which required late-night service. The Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) connected the Belleville Transit service with a Toronto-based software company Pantonium. In an article in Guelph Politico Belleville Transit manager Paul Buck said the experiment was an instant success. “As advanced as I thought we were, or as progressive as I thought we were, I still had that transit mentality that we’re gonna launch slow, and we’d build it over time,” Buck explained.
“In the first 24 hours we had over 200 registered riders for the service,” Buck added. “Our ridership increased by over 500 trips in the first few weeks after we launched, and the riders just kept coming.”
Pantonium markets an optimization algorithm that autonomously routes an entire transit fleet in real time. The result is that operators use fewer vehicles while moving more people. Rides are booked from an app, web portal, or by phone. Riders choose where and when they travel and spend less time waiting. The algorithm replaces or augments under-performing fixed routes with on-demand service that can attract similar ridership to metropolitan bus routes.
In the case of Belleville the new system resulted in a 300% Increase in Ridership. A 70% increase in service area while reducing vehicle mileage by 30 percent.
Saskatoon had a similar problem as Belleville. Transit service in the city’s industrial employment area was not convenient enough for workers. C0VID19 also caused low ridership and some fixed routes became unsustainable. Saskatoon worked with Pantonium to add on-demand service to enhance and compliment their fixed routes in July 2020. The results were dramatic:
- 64% of stops were avoided
- 268 City stops covered
- 84% On time percentage
- 16 min Average ride time
- 50% of rides picked up early
- 1 min Average wait time
The company has rolled out the service in other North American cities as well. Guelph will be the next Ontario system to roll out on-demand transit using the Pantonium platform.