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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Ride service makes 5,000 trips since launch

The Transcollines on-demand service in the Hills is getting people where they need to be, safely and swiftly.

According to Transcollines communications officer Chantal Mainville, the highly-popular on-demand ride service has made nearly 5,000 trips since it launched in November of last year and ridership keeps increasing.

“The on-demand service is gaining popularity very quickly,” said Mainville, adding that the service has added new stops in Kingsmere in Chelsea. The service is continuing to grow in the Hills, with ridership growing exponentially every month. When the service launched in November, there were just under 350 trips. That number more than tripled in December with 1,092 trips and again increased to 1,512 trips in January. February is even better, with 1,642 trips as of Feb. 23.

Mainville said the service will become even more accessible this spring with online ticketing options and several fixed lines, with low ridership being transformed into on-demand fleets. “We are working hard to meet the demand and to tailor the service to different needs,” she said.

Those needs are becoming more clear for Transcollines, as the regional public transit service has just wrapped up an online survey that shows residents are happy with the service and want it to remain in the Hills.

According to the survey, of the 96 respondents, 89 per cent said the current service should be permanent, while 84 per cent agreed that the service is meeting their needs; 76 per cent were in favour of turning fixed lines into on-demand services.

But at just $4.75 for a trip anywhere in the Hills, some users are wondering how the service will be financially sustainable.

Cantley resident Marc Villeneuve took a cab from Cantley to Wakefield and when he first got into the cab, he said he noticed that the meter was already at $47.75. When he arrived at Hamilton Motors, the meter read $84.30, but he was only charged the basic $4.75.

According to Transcollines, the meters start at the first boarding, and assignments can last up to two hours and can include several trips.

The service said that, in Villeneuve’s case, there was a trip before his and that’s why the meter was already at $47.75. But Villeneuve said that the cabs start their meters in Gatineau and get paid for the drive to the Hills before picking up customers. He said he worries that Cantley’s budget of $226,000 for the service will be blown before the year is up.

“I asked the driver and the driver told me that they start the meter on main street in Gatineau,” he said. “It’s either on main street in Gatineau or at the Casino because that is a central point for them.”

According to Mainville, the Transcollines on-demand service has the same funding model as Société des transport de l’Outaouais (STO) and half of its funding comes from the Ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable (MTQ). The other half is funded through various stakeholders in the Hills.

“For the balance, it differs from one ride to another. Depending on the number of passengers on board during the trip, the user contribution will vary and the balance will be paid by other source of income, including quotas,” she said. “In any case, an increase in ridership will reduce operation costs per trips because the operating system will maximize pairings and reduce vehicle waits between two trips. Also, we will be retrieving fixed lines this spring (mid-April) to make buses available for on-demand transportation, which will help us answer the growing popularity of the service.”

The service has about 20 taxis in Taxi Loyal’s fleet.

Mainville said that, during rush hour, four vehicles are on standby in the Hills, ready to take residents in Cantley, Chelsea, La Pêche and Val-des-Monts to appointments, work or home.

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