Mary Beth Corcoran
Shift workers and people wanting to be on the move in Chatham after 7 p.m. have a new ride option thanks to a pilot on-demand bus project until June 2021.
CKTransit On-Request, Chatham-Kent’s first demand-responsive conventional public transit service, launched Monday evening. This pilot program will operate Monday-Friday in Chatham from 7:15 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
According to Chatham-Kent Transit Project Manager Ian Clark, unlike the daytime fixed route service, CKTransit On-Request will require riders to request a trip via a mobile application, web portal, or by calling. A bus will pick up the rider at their bus stop and take them in the most direct manner possible to the bus stop closest to their destination while picking up and dropping off other riders.
No transfers between buses will be required. Buses will only be dispatched to bus stops when a trip request has been made. Ad hoc boarding will be allowed if people are at a stop but haven’t requested a ride, Clark said, and added part of the pilot is to see how that goes. People will be allowed to board but will be reminded to use the app or call in for a ride.
“The demand for longer evening hours has been a longstanding gap in our transit system for years,” Clark said. “Shift workers needing to get home, people going to restaurants or to the movies for the night need a way to get home. That’s why we are implementing this pilot. It allows us to run usual bus routes as well as virtual routes. More stops allows us to increase our coverage area, within reason, without an increase in costs.”
Clark said the C-K Transit Master Plan Committee has been working on ideas to increase ridership and be more responsive to local transit needs and this pilot project is to test evening ridership response and demand.
“If this pilot is successful, we will look at expanding to other parts of the municipality,” he added.
CKTransit On-Request will have no impact on existing daytime transit services.
“This on-demand service model is being adopted by municipalities all across North America,” said Clark. “It provides a potential alternative to operating expensive fixed routes during times or areas of Chatham-Kent with lower ridership.”
First implemented in Belleville about a year and a half ago, Clark said the idea was in response to the problem with not a lot of riders using night service on regular routes and costs associated with a bus circling regular routes with hardly any riders.
“This model cuts trips to what is needed so you have a cost savings for delivering the same level of service,” he noted.
CKTransit has partnered with transportation optimization company Pantonium to power the software behind the service. Riders may request a trip three ways:
- Download the “On Demand Transit” app available in the App Store or Google Play, set up your account (email required) and enter the Transit Code: CK or Chatham;
- Visiting www.cktransit.ca/onrequest; set up your account (email required), and enter the Transit Code: CK or Chatham; and
- Riders without Internet access may request a trip by calling 519-436-3233 (Option 3), beginning this Monday afternoon.
Riders can visit www.cktransit.ca/onrequest for more service information.