On-demand transit experiment aims to change suburban busing

A pilot project proposed for Calgary's suburbs could change the way public transit is delivered in the city.

Pilot project proposed for new north-central community of Livingston

Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek, right, and Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating are sponsoring the on-demand transit project. (CBC)

A pilot project proposed for Calgary's suburbs could change the way public transit is delivered in the city.

On-demand transit would involve passengers in newer communities — where transit demand is insufficient — calling or using an app when they want to book a trip. The transit software would then create a route using the various passenger requests and tell them where and when they will be picked up. 

The route would then link the passengers to a nearby transit station.

Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek and Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating are sponsoring the project, which was presented this week to the city's priorities and finance committee. The proposal is requesting $338,000 from the Calgary Innovation Fund to run the pilot in the new north-central community of Livingston.

"When you have a new community and you don't yet know the patterns of behaviour of the residents and if you put on a full bus line, you're taking a chance that you are delivering the type of service they need," Gondek told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

"This way, we can figure out what people need and use the right type of bus … and use the right timing."

Gondek said Livingston is a new community with great transit ridership and they know people are using the North Pointe transit station as part of their commute.

Information gathered during the pilot project would be used to determine whether a traditional bus stop would work for the community, or whether a demand-responsive model would be most cost-effective.

"One thing that I do want to enforce is a belief in public transit. In our city, we have people leveraging the service that we offer. We just need to make sure we are keeping up with the times and offering the service in a way that meets need and is most economical," Gondek said.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.