Commuters who take GO Transit from Milton station may be able to shave a few minutes off their trips thanks to a Waterloo-based startup.
Unlike services like Uber, RideCo's free app allows users to book a ride to Milton GO Station through established transportation services like shuttles, taxis or limousine services. The system uses cloud-based, logistics software to link them up with other commuters leaving at the same time, picking them up along the route.
"It's personalized mass transit," says Prem Gururajan, co-founder and CEO of RideCo. "You're sharing a ride just as you would on a bus, or on a shuttle, or some sort of shared vehicle, but it's personalized. You can ask for a ride from the location you desire at the time that you want."
RideCo partnered with Metrolinx and the Town of Milton for the one-year pilot project, which got underway in May. Metrolinx is funding the project, to the tune of $125,000. The service replaces shuttle buses provided by Milton Transit, with the Town redirecting the approximately $10,000 per month it spends on the buses to the pilot.
"One of our goals at Metrolinx is to foster and support innovative ideas that make it easier for people to get around," said Anne-Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for Metrolinx. She says she hopes the project will reduce demand for parking spaces, which are often in short supply.
"For people to get out of their cars, you have to provide them with options. Convenient options. And one of the things this pilot is hoping to do [is] to give another option for people," said Aikins.
The shared aspect of the rides helps keep costs down. The fare for pick-up at a common intersection costs $1.45. For door-to-door service, riders pay $1.95. RideCo also says it recovers more cost per rider than Milton Transit.
"Yes, [Metrolinx and the Town of Milton] are funding it, but in a way it's actually a cost savings for them in the long run because it's a better cost recovery than having a fixed route shuttle," said Gururajan.
RideCo plans to expand, including to Waterloo Region. The company wants to provide point-to-point transportation to the region's cores, many businesses have expressed interest, citing the lack of available parking, said Gururajan.