Strathcona County is going to try something new with its transit system.
Council unanimously approved an on-demand transit pilot program, with a focus on maximizing efficiency and effectiveness for riders.
The program would run evening and weekend services with two more mobility vehicles added during the pilot. It will operate within Sherwood Park and is scheduled to begin in May 2022.
Residents will be able to download an app and can book their rides and track their buses in real-time. The buses will be able to pick up people that are in the same area and take them to their destination through the most efficient route. It's estimated riders should be able to get picked up in about 30 minutes.
"It'll offer much more flexibility. It'll be a lot faster for customers, and truly, if you want to get people out of their cars and onto the transit system, you need to make sure that it's affordable and it's fast and that it's effective for customers," explained Derek Zabel, manager of conventional transit with the county.
The county expects this to be a more cost-effective method, as the mobility buses are smaller, which is more efficient to use in the evenings with less ridership than the larger buses. Administration expects to save about $635,000 through the on-demand approach over the pilot period.
This will run until December 2023; council will consider implementing this system permanently if the pilot goes well.