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More on-demand Calgary Transit for northwest communities, says Coun. Sharp

With the success of Calgary Transit’s on-demand service, one city councillor wants to see the offering expand.

In last week’s infrastructure and planning committee meeting, city administration provided an update on the RouteAhead plan. That’s the city’s 30-year strategic transit document.

In the admin report, it talked about Calgary’s on-demand transit offerings. Right now there are two pilot programs: One in Livingston Carrington and the other in the area south of Highway 1 and west of Sarcee Trail SW.

Using the free smartphone app called Calgary Transit on Demand, customers can request transit service between Carrington, Livingston, and North Pointe to be connected to fixed transit.

They can select the date and time of their choosing up to 48 hours in advance. Customers have the option to pay with a pass, ticket, transfer or in the app with credit card.

“The pilot projects have showed on-demand is ideal for the phased introduction of transit service in new communities, and it can replace fixed-route service in existing communities to respond to significant reductions in ridership,” read the admin report.

Misty Sklar, acting manager of transit planning, told LiveWire Calgary that on-demand made sense in developing areas in the city’s north.

“It’s a great way to give with an introductory service into those communities,” Sklar said.

They’re still waiting for final results on the southwest pilot, Sklar said. It’s not the typical 2019 ridership in that area of the city, but it’s definitely provided an option.

“We’re definitely seeing it as a viable in the Calgary context,” she said.

Sklar said they’ve even had some success with a mixed approach. They introduced the 124 route into Livingston and Carrington. People are still using the on-demand as well, she said.

Let’s try it in the northwest: Coun. Sonya Sharp

There’s likely room for the service in both new and established areas, particularly in response to changing ridership, Sklar said.

“It’s something that hopefully as we move forward, we’re going to be able to figure out where else this makes sense in the city,” she said.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp asked about the success of the on-demand program during the committee meeting. She’s interested to see the pilot results and how this might expand.

Sharp told LiveWire Calgary that one of the top two issues she heard (traffic safety) in many northwest communities was access to transit. It was a particular issue in three communities: Valley Ridge, Crestmont and Haskayne.

“The on-demand out there would actually be something that I like as a pilot, even if it’s something that they could try,” Sharp said.

“I think the on-demand for those areas would be probably better received than the regular, set routes.”

Sklar said they’ve considered piloting a hybrid approach, too. It could include rush-hour regular service with an on-demand complement throughout the day.

“We haven’t ventured there yet, but we’re eager to see how things go with these two pilots and then look at what’s next,” she said.

In the meantime, Sharp said she’s got communities ready to try out the new version of on-demand.

“I’d like to be working with administration to understand where that is at and if we can pilot three more communities in Ward 1 to see what the return on investment is,” she said.