Ottawa city councillor calls for city to adopt Uber-like transit model

Councillor Carol Anne Meehan is urging the city to implement an on-demand service model

Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan is pushing for the city to adopt a new on-demand transit model that works similar to Uber.

The city’s transit system is continuing to see low ridership as a result of the pandemic. The CBC reports that Meehan says the city is losing around $1 million per week for running buses that are empty.

Data from OC Transpo reveals that transit ridership was about 18 percent of normal levels in January of this year.

Meehan says Ottawa should follow Belleville, Ontario in launching an on-demand transit service at night. The city became the first in North America to launch such a service.

Although Belleville has seen a drop in ridership amid the pandemic like other cities, it’s been able to operate more efficiently with its on-demand service. Riders simply have to schedule a ride using a website and the software will map the best route to pick up and drop off riders.

Once the data has been processed and optimized, riders are sent confirmation emails and the pickup information is sent to bus drivers through a tablet.

Ottawa’s director transit customer systems and planning, Pat Scrimgeour, told the CBC in a statement that “we are currently exploring on-demand transit products, services and availability.”

“This work is in a preliminary state and only exploratory at this stage and we have spoken with multiple vendors to gather information. At this time, no simulations are scheduled with any possible suppliers.”

Since Belleville has been able to successfully launch the service, it’s no surprise that councillors are looking to implement similar measures in their own cities.

Image credit: OC Transpo

Source: CBC News