Brandon Transit riders could soon be able to request a ride whenever they need one after the city released a request for proposals in May.
The request is for proposals to launch an on-demand transit pilot project, which would improve service during off-peak hours like evenings and weekends, according to the RFP document.
"It is anticipated this service will open up Transit to a larger market in the community, reduce wait times and provide a more convenient option for riders," the RFP reads.
A total of $45,000 is budgeted for the pilot project.
City director of transportation Carla Richardson said the pilot is about finding new and "innovative" ways to deliver services.
"One of the things that’s emerging as a trend within the industry is the on-demand or micro-transit service," Richardson said.
A rider could request a trip at a certain location and what time they want to arrive. The software would then look at which buses are on the road and their schedules.
"That’s the concept of it, rather than a scheduled, traditional, conventional service delivery, which is the buses drive the designated route and stay on that route whether or not they’re picking up as many people as we would like," she said.
It’s too early to determine if people could request a ride anywhere in the city or just along the already existing bus routes, Richardson said. The request is open, so that will be determined by the proposals that come in.
Ideally, the city would like to offer "virtual bus stops." Richardson said that means there might not be a physical pole at the stop, but if it’s a safe area to pick up a passenger, the bus could still stop there.
"That would get people very close to their pickup and drop-off locations," she said.
It’s also too early to determine if the buses that pick people up would be traditional city buses or Access Transit buses, she said, but Brandon Transit is looking at the entire fleet.
According to the RFP document, the on-demand service could be fulfilled by a third party, like the city uses for TransCab to service certain areas of the city without regular transit routes.
The idea is largely driven by Brandon Transit administration, Richardson said, rather than something being asked for by riders.
The pilot project could launch as soon as the fall, she said. Based on the results of the pilot, the city could make it permanent.
"We really want to know what the companies out there have to offer us, and we’re going to look at what’s the absolute best solution for our city and what best meets our needs," she said.
Currently, the city has 17 buses driving on eight fixed routes and a number of industrial routes. The city also has five specialized buses for people who can’t use conventional buses.
In April, Winnipeg City Council approved a pilot project for on-demand accessible vehicles, which is set to run for three years. The City of Regina is also testing on-demand service along a bus route in the city.
The RFP is scheduled to close on June 14.
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