Breslau residents can expect to be part of an on-demand busing experiment next spring, as Waterloo Region council last week approved a new pilot project.
The eight-month program will see users order up rides in advance, principally through a mobile app, rather than see a traditional bus service running along a fixed route. The $175,000 in funding for the project is coming from Metrolinx, the provincial Crown agency.
Service is expected to begin in the spring, with buses available nine hours per day, Monday through Friday. Peak commuting times are the likely targets, said Peter Zinck, the region’s director of transit services.
“It’s a pilot process to try out a different way to deliver service in newly expanding areas. Customers would request the trip in advance rather than a conventional bus service where the bus comes by every 30 minutes, say. They call in advance or use an app to request the service – this would work like pooling trips together to make trips shorter and more convenient for customers,” he explained.
The details of the project have yet to be decided, but the main thrust is connecting Breslau residents with regular Grand River Transit buses, as well as to establish a link to the airport. Future growth will see a GO Transit station in the area, as well.
“It’s pretty early to say – we haven’t gotten into the operation piece of this yet, but I would imagine it would be every 30 minutes or so,” said Zinck of the on-demand service. “It would be designed to connect into services that are operating in Kitchener, just across the river in the Victoria (Street) and Lackner (Boulevard) area.
Projected ridership also remains up in the air at this point. The region carried out three online surveys to gauge public interest, receiving a total of 269 responses.
“Because it’s new area, we have to be somewhat cautious in our projection. Per hour rides of probably between five and 10 would be great,” he said. “But we don’t have any hard and fast numbers at this time – just based on what we see in other new on-demand service areas, over time we would expect that to increase.”
Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz, who represents the township on regional council, said the pilot project has met with mostly positive response.
“I haven’t heard a lot of pushback on it. Metrolinx is doing it, so it’s not a cost to us (the region) at this point, and it’ll give us a better idea of just what the community will is. I think it’s a win,” she said of the pilot project.
“I’ve heard things over the years, not specifically to this pilot, but I’ve certainly had comments over the years where people were wishing for connections … in Breslau.”