Presentation to Council about On-Demand Transit

As part of the 2021 budget deliberations, Council authorized a year-long trial of an On-Demand Transit system.  This would improve service and probably increase the number of users.  If successful, it would allow bus sizes to be reduced and reduce costs.  At Monday’s regular Council meeting, the proposed suppliers made a presentation to Council with additional details.  The current Transit Contractor, Pacific Western, plus their software partner Rideco, listed other municipalities using or planning to use their On-Demand Service – both Pacific Western Transit (PWT) and Rideco are Canadian companies although Rideco has several US customers including San Antonio, LA and Houston. They also demonstrated their App and gave a timeline for the Trial.  PWT has 35 Transit Contracts in Canada with 8 of them “On-Demand”.

Details are below but there are more in previous articles – see Links.  All Councillors were enthusiastic.  The trial would include extensive Public Engagement and a marketing campaign to explain details.


There are a number of features not highlighted in previous descriptions of the system

  • The Wheels service (aimed at riders with disabilities) would be integrated.  During the trial, Wheels buses would be directed to anyone needing their accessibility but new buses would be able to serve all categories of clients.
  • Rides would be booked in advance and riders would be given a 10 minute window when their bus would arrive.
  • Arrival times can be specified and are guaranteed with a 95% success rate.
  • The service is essentially curb to curb – riders can specify origin and destination addresses
  • Payment would normally be in advance and online using a credit card but vouchers (tickets) can also be used
  • Once booked, the rider can track where the bus is and when they will be picked up.
  • Data is collected on usage and could be used to adjust operating hours to meet demand
  • Current fixed stops would be included as origin and destination addresses.
  • Instead of a wait of up to an hour, On-Demand promises a 20-30 minute wait.
  • Rides can be booked by an iPhone, Android, or desktop app or by phone to a call-centre or if desired at Transit booths (perhaps setup at the Library, or Vic Hall?)
  • The service would cover all of Cobourg – not just the current area.
On Demand Trial Timeline
On Demand Trial Timeline

As mentioned in a previous post, Council approved $40K to fund the trial.


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3 years ago

Uber works other places. Why not here?

3 years ago

Hope the trial includes the ‘least’ connected individual(s). These are the folks that don’t have the money for: Cell phones/plans; smart phone/laptop at home and / or funds for taxis (at 22$+ return). I would wager that a good % of the potential ridership fall into the above demographic.

3 years ago

I’ll miss the big empty bus driving past on a regular basis!

3 years ago

I wonder what the “Cost per Ride” is in the 34 other towns that PWT serves in Canada…both Regular Route type and the On Demand type services.

3 years ago

During COVID 19 where do you get the tickets? Are tickets on-going or will a Credit Card be the only method of payment? Do you drop them in the box or pay on-line for ticket use? Is a credit card necessary to buy the tickets?

Reply to  Liz
3 years ago

I thought transit was free during covid 19, making tickets unnecessary.
Watch the presentation from Pacific Western here:
Starts around the 1:33 mark. The whole thing including Q&A takes less than 45 minutes and all serious questions you have are answered.
But, you’ll have to sit through watching Cr Bureau swirling around in his chair like a school boy, while dying for a smoke break. How annoying is that on zoom?

Last edited 3 years ago by Frenchy
Reply to  Frenchy
3 years ago

I read the point (Payment would normally be in advance and online using a credit card but vouchers (tickets) can also be used)
Hope there are tickets Frenchy – many people that use the bus don’t have credit cards. Planned to review the links a bit later, read quite a bit about this plan previously.

3 years ago

Rides would be booked in advance. How far in advance?. What if someone just wanted to go to Walmart on the spur of the moment? Sounds complicated to me.

Reply to  Conor
3 years ago

You could always walk, bike, drive, ask a friend or take a cab.

Reply to  Conor
3 years ago

Instead of a wait up to an hour On-Demand promises a 20-30 minute wait.

Last edited 3 years ago by JimT
Reply to  JimT
3 years ago

So did the sign posted in the bus shelter at Metro – 30 minute wait for route 1 or Route 2 alternate. Better make sure you got a cell phone or you are SOL.

Last edited 3 years ago by Liz
Reply to  Conor
3 years ago

Not complicated.
As I understand it, the little buses circulate on a regular route. When you need one, you call in your requirements and the software locates the nearest bus on the route that is:
a. headed towards where you are, and
b. going towards the destination you want to go to.
No point in sending a vehicle that is going in the opposite direction you want.
The bus diverts to your place and picks you up and resumes its route towards where you want to go.
Easy peasy.
As I understand it.