Book-a-bus: On demand evening transit service coming to Chatham, maybe Windsor
'It won't pick you up at your door, but it will still be convenient'
If you're trying to get around at night in Chatham, Ont., it will get easier in January.
CK Transit is launching a pilot project in the new year, adding on-demand bus service past midnight Monday through Friday.
Right now, the transit system in Chatham shuts down at 7:30 p.m.
It's not quite like a cab, but the municipality is calling it "more efficient."
"You can book in advance or you book right there when you're at the stop," said Ian Clark, the municipality's transit project manager. "It won't pick you up at your door, but it will still be convenient."
According to CK Transit, the on-demand service will be more reliable.
"A lack of evening service after 7:30 ... it's been a long standing gap," said Clark. "With on-demand, it's far more cost efficient. There's typically lower ridership during the evening, so now we'll be able to match our capacity to demand."
The technology will also provide real-time information on how many seats are available on the bus, as well as arrival times. Chatham-Kent has used Belleville as its model for the system. Belleville was the first in North America to put this kind of system in place, and found a 300 per cent increase in ridership.
The on-demand service starts in Chatham proper, but Clark said it might expand if it works.
"We have a huge challenge on our hands," said Clark "If the on-demand is successful, we could experiment with things like having our buses travel to our further communities."
Clark says there is demand from customers who need to get to workplaces, and from those interested in shopping, going to the movies and restaurants.
Would it work in Windsor?
On-demand service is also on Transit Windsor's "radar," said executive director Pat Delmore.
"It will be included in our transit master plan that will be presented to council later this year," said Delmore.
During the transit system review over the past two years, Delmore said there have been some areas identified that could benefit from on-demand service.
"In the industry, it is something that is really taking over for low ridership areas, but areas that still require service," said Delmore. " You can then provide a higher level of service and potentially attract and increase ridership."