Ride-shares, subsidized taxis eyed to improve transit in Waterloo region

Waterloo region will decide on Tuesday whether it will look at implementing three alternative transit pilot projects in the Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge areas this fall.

Regional council will vote Tuesday on whether to allow 3 types of alternative transportation

Waterloo region will decide on Tuesday whether it will look at implementing three alternative transit pilot projects in the Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge areas this fall. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

Waterloo region council is looking at three new options to better connect existing transit services in the area.

A ride-share program, subsidized taxis and expanding existing BusPlus services are all on the table to help supplement  Grand River Transit buses.

The added programs, with a price tag of $180,000 for a 10-month pilot, are being recommended by the region's transportation committee.

According to a report for council, the pilot areas include Northwest Waterloo, Central Hespeler as well as the Trinity Village and Freeport areas where people are having difficulty accessing transit.

The idea is to run the pilot for 10 months to see how the changes deal with gaps in service. Regional council will have to vote on whether to allow the three different alternative transportation pilot projects to launch in September.

"​Implementing these pilot programs would allow Grand River Transit (GRT) to gain knowledge and test an innovative, new form of transportation service delivery, while providing a cost effective mobility option more suitable than conventional transit for low demand areas," reads the report.

3 different pilots

Northwest Waterloo will pilot a ride share program using a supplementary taxi company.

Riders will be able to use an app that will collect data to maximize productivity and minimize wait time and travel time.

The Trinity Village and Freeport areas will pilot a community bus, through GRT's busPLUS service. 

BusPLUS service is already being used across the region in new neighbourhoods and new routes using a smaller 19-seat bus.

Subsidized taxis will be piloted in Central Hespeler, according to the report. A taxi company will provide connection in areas that are further than a five minute walking distance of a bus stop.