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Canadian city launches on-demand transit service with Via

Riders in Sault Ste Marie can use the Via app to hail a shuttle directly from their smartphone and advanced algorithms enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle.

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Sault Ste Marie On-Demand will initially operate on Sunday evenings when ridership is low
Sault Ste Marie On-Demand will initially operate on Sunday evenings when ridership is low

Canadian city Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, is to pilot an on-demand Sunday night public transportation service. The aim is to overhaul an under-utilised fixed-route bus network with on-demand microtransit technology.

 

The new public transportation deployment will be operated by on-demand public mobility provider, Via, in partnership with Sault Ste Marie Transit Services, a transit provider in the Ontario province.

 

Hailing an on-demand bus

 

From 8 September, passengers will be able to ride Sault Ste Marie On-Demand, which will operate on Sundays from 7.15pm to midnight when ridership has historically been low on the existing fixed-route buses.

 

Passengers can hail an on-demand bus in real-time to their desired stop, which is anticipated will allow more efficient use of city buses, rather than continuously driving on fixed-routes with little or no passengers.

 

“This presents an excellent opportunity to run a pilot for on-demand services,” said Brent Lamming, director of community services, Sault Ste Marie. “By implementing an on-demand transit technology system, the city intends to reduce the number of buses used to service the routes [presently nine], and improve service delivery by making more efficient use of resources.”

 

Using the on-demand app, riders will be able to hail a shuttle directly from their smartphone. Via said its algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle.

“The new Sault Ste Marie On-Demand service shows how public transportation and technology can work together to make a city smarter”

The technology will direct passengers to a nearby bus stop within a short walking distance for pick-up and drop-off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

 

Sault Ste Marie On-Demand allows riders to travel from one pre-existing established stop to another as requested. Once the bus arrives, passengers can pay using their existing transit pass or cash. The app provides riders with notifications and messages, real-time vehicle tracking, and an opportunity for users to provide post-ride feedback.

 

“We are thrilled to partner with the innovative team at the city of Sault Ste Marie to bring Via’s technology to Ontario for the very first time,” added Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via.

 

“The new Sault Ste Marie On-Demand service shows how public transportation and technology can work together to make a city smarter. Residents now have a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to move around. This is truly a great example of a city embracing the future of mobility.”

 

Via claims to have more than 80 launched and pending deployments in nearly 20 countries, providing more than 60 million rides to date.

 

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