On-de­mand bus project on route?

Pro­posal will go be­fore the city’s pri­or­i­ties and fi­nance com­mit­tee on Tues­day

StarMetro Calgary - - NEWS - BREN­NAN DO­HERTY

The city’s new­est out­ly­ing neigh­bour­hoods could see an odd kind of bus wind­ing its way through their streets — the kind with­out a route.

A pro­posal be­fore Cal­gary’s pri­or­i­ties and fi­nance com­mit­tee meet­ing on Tues­day will ask for $338,000 from the city’s in­no­va­tion fund to set up an on-de­mand tran­sit ser­vice “in newer com­mu­ni­ties where tran­sit de­mand is presently in­suf­fi­cient” for a per­ma­nent bus route. The plan is to use the pi­lot to bet­ter move Cal­gar­i­ans in low-den­sity parts of the city while not dig­ging deeply into op­er­at­ing bud­gets.

“This is some­thing coun­cil has been dis­cussing for quite some time, es­pe­cially as we’ve seen a lot of growth in the pe­riph­eral com­mu­ni­ties of Cal­gary,” said coun­cil­lor Jy­oti Gon­dek, one of two city coun­cil­lors be­hind the pro­posal. The pi­lot will re­port back to the pri­or­i­ties and fi­nance com­mit­tee in 2020.

Un­like a fixed route, an on­de­mand sys­tem al­lows pas­sen­gers to or­der a bus, or an­other type of ve­hi­cle, to an

ap­pointed sta­tion when­ever it’s needed. Soft­ware com­piles these re­quests and weaves to­gether a route a driver can fol­low — think UberPool, for a bus. Sim­i­lar pi­lot projects are now run­ning in Win­nipeg and Belleville, Ont. But they aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the panacea to a lack of ser­vices and rapid growth in Cal­gary’s pe­riph­eral com­mu­ni­ties.

Fran­cisco Alaniz Uribe, codi­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Cal­gary’s Ur­ban Lab, said tran­sit doesn’t typ­i­cally work by it­self to move peo­ple within a given area. It also works in har­mony with land use and pop­u­la­tion den­sity. In the first half of the 20th cen­tury, when Cal­gary still had street­car tracks, this was the case — but no longer, he said.

“We used to set up the

tracks for the street­car be­fore we even sold homes to peo­ple that lived there,” he said. “So, we would pro­vide tran­sit first and then bring the den­sity. And we’re not do­ing that any­more.”

Last July, coun­cil ap­proved devel­op­ment plans for 14 new com­mu­ni­ties in the city’s outer reaches.

Get on board with the full story at thes­tar.com/cal­gary

STARMETRO CAL­GARY FILE

An on-de­mand sys­tem al­lows pas­sen­gers to or­der a bus to an ap­pointed sta­tion. Soft­ware com­piles re­quests and weaves to­gether a route a driver can fol­low.

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