Monday, April 24, 2017

Innisfil, Ontario, uses Uber to meet transit needs

How a small town is using Uber to fill its public transit void | Toronto Star - Alicja Siekierska:

April 3, 2017 - "While many cities across the country have waged fierce battles against ride-sharing services, the town of Innisfil has found an ally in Uber. Innisfil is partnering with the global company to help bring subsidized, on-demand transit service to its residents, the first partnership of its kind in Canada.

"Innisfil’s council, which serves a community of about 36,000, south of Barrie, approved a partnership with Uber last month in which the ride-sharing service will offer discounted trips to certain destinations in the town.

"Mayor Gord Wauchope hailed the agreement as an innovative way to provide transit to Innisfil, which he noted is spread across an area nearly the size of Mississauga. 'Council was really being pressured to bring transit to the town of Innisfil,' Wauchope said. 'You can’t have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use. And this was a transit system that people can get from anywhere in the town of Innisfil, and use it for a reasonable price.'

"The town conducted a transit feasibility study in 2015 and found that a fixed-route bus service would cost about $270,000 for one bus per year. Council decided that was too steep a price for the limited service a single bus could provide. The town will instead provide $100,000 this year for the partnership, and a further $125,000 in 2018. The service will officially launch on May 1.

"Residents will pay base fees for trips to key locations in Innisfil, and the town will pay Uber the balance. For example, Innisfil residents will pay $3 per person for any trip to or from the Innisfil Recreational Complex and Town Hall area, and the town will cover the remainder of the fare, from $6 to $9. Trips to and from the Barrie South GO station, Innisfil Heights Employment Area and Hwy. 400 carpool lot will cost $5, and any trip to or from the closest GO bus stop on Yonge St. will be $4.

"Residents will also be able to book a trip from Innisfil to anywhere they wish and receive $5 off their fare....

"Paul Pentikainen, a senior policy planner with Innisfil, said the partnership will also provide data that can help assess ridership patterns and potential locations for fixed routes.

"'The feasibility study was great, but with Uber it’s going to show us exactly where people want to go,' he said.

"The town may also explore partnerships with local businesses, which could chip in to subsidize rides to various areas of town.... For those who don’t have smartphones, Uber will provide iPads in locations across town, including the town hall, recreation centre, library and high school."

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