Small-Town Transit Levels Up with Bus-Hailing App

By October 2, 2019 No Comments

If public transit agencies, which deliver an essential service, can modernize their services using technology, they stand a chance of competing with automobiles and car-based ride-hailing services that Ryerson researchers have shown to increase traffic and congestion, and worsen carbon emissions.

The Laboratory of Innovations in Transportation (LiTrans) at Ryerson University has recently completed a data analysis of Canada’s first on-demand bus transit experiment in Belleville, Ontario that finds ride-hailing technology can successfully improve bus service and boost bus ridership

Click to get the report

To help showcase this innovation, the Ryerson City Building Institute has released a short report detailing the results of this study, “Belleville Lets Riders Drive the Bus in On-Demand Transit Project.”

Head of LiTrans Bilal Farooq, an expert in urban mobility, will be discussing the data analysis and its potential for other transit systems at CBI’s upcoming event, “Taken for a Ride: Hailing On-Demand Transit for Good” on December 3rd. 

>> Get your free ticket to “Taken for a Ride” on Eventbrite

Background on the Belleville Bus-Hailing Pilot

Many towns and cities struggle with keeping bus routes in low-density areas running, due to the high costs of operation in relation to low ridership and fare revenue. What’s more, these public transit routes are often long, which means they offer infrequent service at each stop. 

In an effort to improve its bus service for customers, and maximize on driver hours and kilometres driven, the town of Belleville, Ontario decided to pilot an on-demand service for bus riders, powered by an app.

>> Read: Uber for buses? How some Canadian cities are using technology to tackle transit troubles on CBC News

The app, created by company Pantonium, launched in early 2018, allowing registered users to schedule bus trips on the Belleville Transit late-night Route 11. Users were able to specify desired pick-up time, provide a tolerance for wait time, and determine their own pick-up and drop-off locations, anywhere within the route boundaries. (Riders could also use the bus on an ad-hoc basis, as before.)

After users summoned the bus through the system, and the bus would make changes to its route in real time based on requests. Not dependent on a live dispatch team, the app crunched information input by users and provided dynamic routing solutions–a notoriously difficult task

Belleville piloted the project for nine months to test the results, then hired the research team at LiTrans to analyse the data collected. While it is up to Belleville to determine the success of the project against its objectives using all measurables, it is fair to say that the data analysis supports the continued operation of the on-demand transit service, as the pilot boosted ridership and provided optimized service to a high number of users. 

For more details and results of the data analysis, download Ryerson CBI’s short report, “Belleville Lets Riders Drive the Bus in On-Demand Transit Project.” 

And don’t forget to join the conversation on December 3rd–register for “Taken for a Ride: Hailing On-Demand Transit for Good” today.