Riders of Airdrie Transit will notice some changes to the way the transit system operates when a new OnDemand service is introduced in September.
According to transit co-ordinator Chris MacIsaac, the changes are intended to improve the experience for transit users and increase transit usage.
“The service as it is today really struggles to achieve any of the even basic performance that we’d expect out of a local transit system,” he said. “Our service reliability is really struggling right now with the growth of the community.”
MacIsaac said the current routes were planned in 2009 and changes are necessary to keep up with the city’s growth.
“We’ve almost doubled in population since then but the transit network hasn’t changed. It’s not uncommon for our services now to be running 10 to 15 minutes late on an average day,” he said. “We had to look at doing our business a little differently, making changes to reflect how the community has grown, how the traffic patterns have changed.”
The OnDemand system will allow a user to book a ride from their home to the nearest transit stop using a new app.
“It’s going to be a shared ride kind of model, so if someone’s getting on in Reunion and someone else is booked in Williamstown, then the same vehicle will be dispatched to pick up both of those customers,” he said.
“It’s something that we’re really proud of. I think it goes a long way to show the technology’s advanced to the point where we can do this now.”
Airdrie taxi company Cowboy Taxi was the successful bidder and has been contracted with Airdrie Transit to provide the OnDemand service. According to MacIsaac, accessible vehicles will be available on the OnDemand system.
Routes within Airdrie will also be changing. Currently there are three routes but MacIsaac said data collected by Airdrie Transit showed where people are getting on and off the bus and which communities are using transit the most. Two perimeter routes – one travelling in each direction – will replace the existing three routes.
While the changes mean a change to how riders use the system, the cost to do so will not change. According to MacIsaac, a local ride will remain at $2.25, including the OnDemand portion of the trip. Similarly, anyone using OnDemand to get to an ICE bus stop will still only pay the cost of riding the bus, either to CrossIron Mills mall or into Calgary.
“All the pieces have come together now to provide what I think is more service and a more connected service,” MacIsaac said. “We’re excited to work with a local company to deliver the service.”
More information about the upcoming changes to transit service is available online at airdrietransit.ca