Uber set to fill a massive bus-shaped hole in the town of Innisfil, Ontario

Uber has entered in an agreement with the Canadian town of Innisfil, Ontario to serve as the town’s public transport service.

The town of Innisfil decided that subsidising Ubers, with its services like Uber Pool, was cheaper than paying for its own dedicated bus service, so on May 1 a partnership between Uber and the town will begin and residents will be able to pay between $3 and $5 , depending on the destination, to ride the service.

“[The] Council was really being pressured to bring transit to the town of Innisfil,” said Innisfil’s mayor, Gord Wauchope, to the Toronto Star.

“You can’t have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use. And this was a transit system that people can get from anywhere in the town of Innisfil, and use it for a reasonable price.”

Innisfil, Ontario. Image courtesy of Michael Gil

Although Innisfil has been criticised by some for not investing in its own public transport, the town argues that it doesn’t make economic sense to do so.

The Council says that for a town like Innisfil that currently has no bus service, bringing one bus into the town would cost $270,000 and two buses would set the town back $610,00, which would be too costly for the limited level of service that they would provide.

In contrast, Innisfil will pay Uber $100,00 during Stage 1 of the programme and then another $125,00 during Stage 2, which should commence around 6 to 9 months later.

Featured image courtesy of Jirapong Manustrong / Shutterstock, Inc.

The town is still in discussions with taxi companies that already operate in Innisfil – Innisfil Taxi, Global Taxi and Barrie Taxi – to arrange a partnership that would also see them offer “accessibility” rides, which Uber may  not offer, during Stage 1 of the ridesharing transit service.

For residents of Innisfil who don’t have access to a smartphone, Uber has provided the Town with a number of iPads that will be available in community hubs like the Town Hall, the library and the Nantyr Shores Seconday School within the town.

Speaking to Factor, Uber Canada’s senior communications associate, Susie Heath, says: “On May 1st, Uber and the Town of Innisfil will launch Canada’s first ridesharing-transit partnership. This partnership will not only help residents get around town but will encourage them to access local transit hubs.

“We were thrilled when the Town of Innisfil approached us last year as they were interested in running a dynamic ridesharing-based transit service to test the feasibility of such a service in the Town.

“Since then, we have worked closely with Town staff to develop a public transit partnership that will provide affordable and cost effective transit to their residents.

Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock.com

“We know that Uber and ridesharing has become a first mile/last mile complement with public transit in cities around the world. The American Public Transportation Association (to which many Canadian transit authorities are members) published a study last year that found that people who routinely use “shared modes” of transportation (e.g., bikesharing, carsharing, and ridesharing) were more likely to use public transit,” says Heath.

“Today, people are combining ridesharing and public transit to substitute for a car and create shared journeys. As a case in point, in London, 30% of Uber rides in the outer boroughs during the morning rush hour end within 200 metres of a Tube or train station.

“Realizing these trends are already happening, more and more transit authorities and cities are entering into formal agreements with ridesharing companies to help connect people to public transit, like in the feeder communities of New York City and Orlando, or improve paratransit services for the elderly and disabled, as with a pilot program in Boston.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Innisfil for Canada’s first partnership of this kind and look forward to continued dialogue with other jurisdictions and transit authorities across Canada to explore similar partnerships. “

Updated with comment from Uber.

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