On demand responsive transit may be coming to Muskoka by the end of the year.
In a report to the Community and Planning Services Committee on January 18, District staff stated that it was possible to have responsive transit by the end of 2024. A demand responsive transit system is when passenger travel demands determine vehicle times and routes.
The purpose of the report was an update on the new proposed service and to recommend a contract with Blaze Transit. To facilitate this new transit system the District requires a technology partner to support the planning and delivery of the new system. The purpose of the report was an update was to recommend a contract with Blaise Transit.
The presentation was made by Transportation Network Coordinator Sydney Piatkowski. She stated that a demand responsive transit program would be a new direction for rural transit and would be able to meet the diverse transportation needs of Muskoka.
Piatkowski stated that Blaise Transit can deliver a public-facing mobile app, websites to book rides, a driver interface, route optimization and payment options. She went on to say that Blaise would assist in designing the new service, especially around vehicle needs and operational considerations.
Piatkowski stated that certain operational decisions, especially if the District employs transit drivers or handles data collection operations, would be made at a later date after further analysis.
While not giving a definitive timeline it was stated that staff are optimistic that the new service will be operational by the end of 2024. Piatkowski stated that Blaise has a short implementation timeline and staff recognizes the existing cost pressures involved in delaying implementation.
“We are already spending a lot of money in different areas for transportation. So the sooner we can get this in place and get it streamlined the better for the District as a whole,” Piatkowski said.
District Chair Jeff Lehman stated he was excited about the new system. He highlighted that the district spent around $500,000 in 2022 on various initiatives to help move residents around Muskoka. Lehman also said that this new service would likely provide better service to residents.
“I am dead sure we can provide a better service,” Lehman said.
Piatkowski stated that the new service would serve the whole district including more remote rural regions. She also stated that there had been discussions with local municipalities about potential partnerships.
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