On-demand bus project on route?
Proposal will go before the city’s priorities and finance committee on Tuesday
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.
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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.