In the Know: Identifying tips and practices for a more sustainable future

Powell River, BC Planning On-Demand Bus Service Pilot Project

Powell River, BC – The City of Powell River is planning a pilot project to operate an on-demand bus service that will further the city’s vision of a convenient, accessible, affordable, reliable and efficient public transit system. The on-demand evening service will supplement the existing HandyDART service and be wheelchair accessible but available to anyone. The service will run from 5:00 pm until midnight or later to accommodate users visiting family or travelling to community events, restaurants, pubs, music shows, and other late-night activities.

According to the city’s report, on-demand transit has been gaining popularity as a more efficient, user-friendly and responsive alternative to traditional fixed-route transit services and is particularly well suited for low-density areas and where trips are varied. While fixed route transit attempts to predict what trips users want to make and sets a schedule based on assumptions, on-demand transit uses actual data from users requesting trips and creates a route in real time based on their input. Trip requests are made via a smart phone app or by phone and on-demand software processes requests instantly to create a bus route that picks up and delivers passengers to their destinations in the shortest time possible.

Funding from the federal Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) will be used to fund a vehicle, simulations and analysis before launch and during operation, a call center, the technology platform and smartphone app, driver and admin training, a dedicated project manager, and post-launch optimization and data analysis.

The City will provide the drivers, marketing, and management of day-to-day tasks such as driver scheduling and bus cleaning. The on-demand evening service is expected to deliver the following benefits:  

  • Provide accessible bus service after 5:00 pm when HandyDART is not available
  • Enable users with mobility challenges to attend evening events in the community and participate in other activities
  • Provide a convenient door-to-door service for seniors
  • Offer a convenient alternative to existing fixed route busses for school kids attending after school activities
  • Increase convenience and usability of our transit system for all users and grow ridership

For additional information:
Ana Lukyanova
Sustainability Planner, City of Powell River

For resources and tools related to sustainability, visit the Center for Sustainability (C4S) and C4S Toolkit.