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Calgary Transit on-demand pilot showing early success

Thousands of trips have been logged in new north Calgary communities after the first three months of an on-demand transit pilot project.

The pilot project, which launched in the communities of Carrington, Livingston and North Pointe on Aug. 9, allows riders to schedule their trip via smartphone app up to three days in advance. Riders choose the date and time they need to ride, number and type of passengers and payment type.

The app will then respond with when to expect your ride and the pickup location.

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Asif Kurji, acting manager of transit planning with the City of Calgary, said they’re pleasantly surprised with the demand so far.

“To date, we’ve had over 6,000 rides and we’re looking at 100 rides per day,” said Kurji.

“We’re seeing a bit of success in that point. We’re still evaluating as we’re going along; it was a one-year pilot and there’s a number of learnings along the way.”

One of the adjustments made due to the demand is an increased number and size of the vehicles on the routes. They’re also regularly tweaking stops to accommodate the passenger flows.

A survey will be rolled out this month to dig deeper into the successes and failures so far of the transit on-demand pilot.

Area developer, Brookfield Residential, said transit service is important in these newer Calgary communities.

“We’re very supportive of transit service coming into our new communities, and any innovative solutions that help expedite this happening, Brookfield Residential is happy to work with The City to pilot these services,” said Brendan McCashin, Senior Development Manager, Calgary Communities.  

Transit on demand progress will be monitored

Kurji said despite the program’s success, they’ll continue to monitor progress over the coming nine months before making any further plans for the program. The current service won’t be expanded and similar programs aren’t expected in other new Calgary communities.

Based on what they’re seeing now, it will certainly be a “tool in the toolbox” for providing interim transit service in suburban growth communities.

One of the areas they’ll be examining closer is the cost to provide the service based on demand, or whether running a full route is more effective. They’ll also be looking at whether a mixed service could be implemented, where a full route is run during peak traffic hours and the on-demand could be operated in the between hours.

“It could be really busy during the a.m. and p.m. peak period,” Kurji said.

“But this different type of delivery, this different tool, could be used in the evenings or midday when it’s not so busy.”

The pilot is expected to end in August 2020.