‘Microtransit’ requirement by the province creates alternative, and extra work, for OC Transpo

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Usually, the idea of microtransit includes clients ordering transit service, very like they order a trip from a taxi or Uber by means of a telephone name or cellular software.

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Jon Prepared An OC Transpo bus in Ottawa. An OC Transpo bus in Ottawa. Photograph by Errol McGihon /Errol McGihon

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Entertaining private-sector pitches to offer “microtransit” in Ottawa has turn into each a chance and a little bit of a headache for OC Transpo.

Extra corporations have been calling Transpo asking for conferences and data ever because the provincial Progressive Conservative authorities final 12 months tied a pile of COVID-19 bailout cash to a requirement for transit providers to check different service supply choices.

Usually, the idea of microtransit includes clients ordering transit service, very like they order a trip from a taxi or Uber by means of a telephone name or cellular software.

John Manconi, the final supervisor of transportation providers, has put on-demand transit on his checklist of 10 priorities for 2021 and he careworn Wednesday that he’s dead-against privatizing any a part of the general public transit service.

“It’s not about privatization of OC Transpo. I’ve by no means been on for that,” Manconi mentioned after a transit fee assembly.

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John Manconi, general manager, transportation services. John Manconi, normal supervisor, transportation providers. Photograph by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

However Transpo can’t ignore the private-sector suiters knocking on its door because it considers a microtransit addition.

Manconi mentioned there was an “onslaught” of distributors contacting Transpo about their wares, which have included software program providers that will assist Transpo ship on-demand providers. Transpo has met with six corporations and has booked one other assembly with a seventh, he mentioned.

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Even earlier than the pandemic, Transpo was kicking round methods to offer the “final mile” service to clients, basically serving to them get to and from transit stops, particularly stations on rapid-transit techniques. The concept obtained consideration as Uber gained extra of a foothold within the Ottawa market and one Ontario municipality, the City of Innisfil, partnered with Uber to offer an on-demand service.

Belleville, too, is usually cited for example of a municipality that has embraced an alternate transit supply mannequin. Town has an on-demand bus service.

However as Manconi identified, it’s an enormous distinction to check the transit necessities of these smaller municipalities with Ottawa’s wants.

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan was adamant that Manconi ought to think about partnering with an organization to run a pilot challenge in a single space, however he pushed again towards the thought, saying Transpo must do its analysis and convey a proposal to the transit fee.

Manconi refuted claims from distributors that their merchandise are merely “plug and play.”

There’s resistance on the transit fee to Transpo pursuing microtransit partnerships, with councillors Catherine McKenney and Theresa Kavangh on Wednesday expressing unease about probably creating two lessons of staff or clients.

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Transpo’s largest union, ATU Native 279, has dismissed microtransit as a “giveaway” to the non-public sector.

At the least one Ottawa group exterior of the federal government is different transit choices for a big workforce.

The Kanata North Enterprise Affiliation has commissioned a feasibility research to have a transit service, probably utilizing autonomous autos, join the Kanata North expertise park with the LRT system.

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LRT train in Ottawa LRT practice in Ottawa Photograph by Jean Levac /Postmedia Information

It’d take time, even past 2021, for Transpo to find out if a microtransit partnership is worth it. The company has its arms full strategizing for a attainable return of extra clients as COVID-19 vaccines turn into accessible.

Plus, as Manconi identified, the province’s solely requirement is for the company to look into microtransit choices, not undertake one.

On the similar time, if there was ever a time to check out microtransit, now is perhaps the time with a lowered pressure on the transit system.

Ridership has elevated to 27 per cent of what could be often anticipated this time of 12 months if it wasn’t for the pandemic. It’s a major enchancment from the 21 per cent reported on the February transit fee assembly, due to the return of in-class studying at faculties and the tip to a stay-at-home order. For all of 2020, ridership was 28 per cent of what could be anticipated for a pre-pandemic 12 months.

jwilling@postmedia.com

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