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Rural Transportation Solutions for Ottawa

Moving Solutions

March 2022 Webinar Series

Rural transportation options in Ottawa now depend highly on the private automobile. That is often not a good solution among youth, young adults and seniors.

We conducted a series of four webinars in March 2022 to familiarize participants of the nature of our transportation challenges and to inform how other rural municipalities had been able to address similar problems. The webinars covered the following areas:.

 

Date

Time

Topic

2 March 2022

7-8:00 PM

  Can an On-Demanding Bus System Be Part of the Solution?

9 March 2022

7-8:00 PM

  A Municipal Ride-Sharing Alternative

23 March 2022

7-8:00 PM

  The Challenge with Small Villages Dispersed over a Large Area

30 March 2022

7-8:00 PM

  How To Pay for a Sustainable Solution?

Report on Webinar #1: An On-Demand System

Summary: The City of Belleville wanted to improve the bus service in its dispersed industrial area for night-shift workers and off-campus college students. A Fixed Route system is not the most cost-effective solution where the passenger numbers are low and dispersed over a large area. Experts recommended the use of an On-Demand system for a period of time in order to determine a better bus route pattern. The Pandonium application was used to respond to requests between identified Origin and Destination bus stops and it would advise the bus operator of the best route and the stops to meet this demand. It recalculates the best route almost instantaneously as a new request is received.

Belleville introduced the Pandonium application and, after a short period of use, the ridership increased significantly. Ridership had increased by some 300% and costs were reduced by 30%. Wait time is in the range of 9-12 minutes.

Belleville now uses a combination of Fixed Routes and On-Demand service in their industrial area. The different approaches in different areas complement each other but do not duplicate. The Pandonium application further demonstrated its power when, during the height of Covid, passenger numbers dropped precipitously by 80-90%. The entire Bellville bus network was quickly converted to an On-Demand system. The passenger demand was still satisfied but with a savings of millions of dollars.

Reference Material:

  1. Report on the performance of the Belleville On Demand system: https://pantonium.com/how-a-city-efficiently-delivered-transit-despite-pandemic/
  2. Slide Presentation is HERE (10Mb)

REPORT ON WEBINAR #2: A RIDE-SHARE SOLUTION

Summary: On 9 March we learned of Innisfil’s experience in setting up a Ride Share municipal transportation system as Public-Private-Partnership with Uber. This is believed to be the first such PPP arrangement in Canada. The system has been operating since 2017 and has proven to be very effective solution for Innisfil. Their solution has resulted in a ridership of more than four times what was estimated to be the target for competing proposals and the ridership satisfaction rate has been more than 70%. The system has proven to be very flexible during the period of Covid.

 Fares to the primary destinations like the Go Station, Recreation Centre, Library, Town Hall average $4. For trips to other locations, the Uber fare is discounted by $4 and ‘surge pricing’ does not apply. Trips can be matched with up to three passengers and response time averages around 10 minutes. Additional partnerships are in place with Barrie Taxi and Driverseat to provide wheelchair-accessible trips. Extraordinary flexibility is characteristic of the system and the computer-based booking system can target special benefits to target populations through their Fair Transit Program and an Essential Trips Allowance Program.

The Shared Ride option has allowed the town of Innisfil to implement an effective and responsive transportation without the large capital expenditures associated with the purchase of buses and the construction of a garage, while also avoiding the continuing costs of maintenance and the employment of more municipal employees.

 

Reference Material:

  1. See: www.innisfil.ca/transit.\


REPORT ON WEBINAR #3: PROVIDING A TRANSIT SYSTEM FOR A SMALL AND DISPERSED POPULATION.

 

Summary: On 23 March we presented background material on the transportation challenges that are encountered in Ottawa’s rural area due to its small population that is widely dispersed across its very large rural area. Approximately 45% of our rural population of 100,000 resides among the 26 villages and 55 % is widely distributed across some 2,240 km2.

Ottawa’s dispersed rural population situation is not unique in Ontario – particularly as the consequence of Amalgamation. We looked at three examples of Ontario municipalities that have been able to address their rural transportation needs:

  • Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Blue Mountain
  • Corridor 11 ( between Orillia and Huntsville)
  • The city of Kawartha Lakes
        
    Any solution must address the transportation needs of two main target population groups in rural Ottawa: those who need to travel within the rural area and those who must travel to the urban and suburban parts of the city. The latter group will need to be efficiently connected with the nearest bus station and that would likely be facilitated through an expanded set of Park and Ride facilities with some being located deeper into the rural area.

Providing transportation solutions within the rural area may be the larger challenge as those needs will be more distributed throughout the day. We will be better defining that need through a study of available Origin-Destination information as well as a subsequent survey.

The last of this set of webinars will be conducted on 30 March. That presentation aims to provide an understanding of the costs of the solutions and the options of cost-sharing. Funding possibilities from the three levels of government will also be discussed.

 

Reference Material:

  1. Slide presentation package is  HERE.

REPORT ON WEBINAR #4: HOW TO PAY FOR A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION?

Summary: On 30 March we presented information on the costs of some of the options for rural transportation that are either in use today in different parts of Ottawa or in other Ontario municipalities. We started with some of the basics of how the type of public transport being received by residents determined the Tax Zone that they were in. We gave the comparative costs for residents of the three transit service zones.

We then presented some costing benchmarks among the transportation options that varied from the private automobile, taxies and shared-ride, ParaTranspo, OC Transpo’s Express Bus service, the Regional Partner system and support provided by the Community Support Service agencies.

In the second part, we outlined some programs at the federal, provincial and municipal level that were available to assist with transportation solutions in the rural area.

We concluded the series of webinars by reminding the participants of the ongoing public consultation for the Transportation Plan. The current cycle is focussing on the Policies. The surveys and online tools will remain open until 5 April. See: https://engage.ottawa.ca/transportation-master-plan

 

Reference Material:

  1. Slide presentation package is HERE. ( View in the "Notes Page" format to see the presentation script)
  2. Master Transportation Plan is HERE.