As the City of Leduc Expands, On Demand Transit Has Seen Exponential Growth

As the City of Leduc Expands, On Demand Transit Has Seen Exponential Growth

The City of Leduc, Alberta, has seen some pretty big changes in the last decade. The community located 33 kilometres south of Edmonton has seen a major boom in population – from 24,279 in 2011 to over 34,500 in 2021.

The influx of new residents caused a strain on city services, including the traditional transit system launched in 2014, which is operated jointly with Leduc County. The local service only offered 42% coverage across the city. To address those gaps, Leduc Transit replaced four local fixed routes with a revolutionary on demand service in the summer of 2021 and has never looked back.

Leduc residents now enjoy 100% coverage, with 450 flex stops throughout the City of Leduc, Leduc Business Park and Nisku Business Park. Instead of operating only in peak periods, transit service is now available all day long – Monday to Friday, 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Kevin Wenzel at Leduc Transit says the switch to on demand has resulted in a massive spike in ridership.

“Ridership has gone crazy. To date, we’ve carried over 30,000 people,” says Wenzel. “Comparing June 2020 – July 2021 ridership with the first year of on demand when it was launched in August, to now – there was a 252% increase in ridership. The second significant piece would be, comparing those two timelines, our cost per passenger has dropped 47% from $51.72 to $27.60.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in the public’s ability to access public transportation, the dramatic difference in ridership is still quite impressive, especially when you consider how many people continue to work from home or utilize a hybrid/office schedule.

On Demand Service is Tailormade for Smaller Urban Populations

Planning exactly where to place bus stops in a fixed-route system can be a major headache for smaller cities and local residents who lament the loss of parking and are left with a bus shelter built in front of their property.

On Demand transit utilizes no-hassle flex and virtual stops. These can be added, removed and placed anywhere, while fixed route service is married to a particular location and schedule. Leduc Transit is also working with the city’s Economic Development staff to reach out to local businesses that have employees stuck without a mode of transportation.

“With on demand service, we can set up virtual stops – if we don’t already have it in place – right by their business and bring them to and from work five days a week.”

Municipalities that utilize on demand also see major cost savings due to the size of the vehicle required – goodbye large transit buses, hello shuttles.

    PWT Has the Solution for Communities Switching to On Demand Transit

    Pacific Western Transportation provides the vehicles and drivers for Leduc Transit, and Wenzel says they’ve installed a great team to serve the community’s transit needs.

    “PWT has been absolutely fabulous with maintaining all of the service that we need. I have very high praise for them. It’s a really good group of drivers, and the manager has been fabulous to work with. The gang at PWT has been bang on. They’ve kept their promises, and along with the team at RideCo, helped find solutions when I didn’t think there were any.”

    Leduc’s on demand transit system uses technology owned by Pacific Western Transportation and a mobile app called Pick-Up On-Demand – powered by RideCo. Customers can book trips up to two weeks in advance and on demand using the mobile app, a web portal or over the phone.

    Pacific Western Transportation makes transitioning from a fixed-route local service to a demand-based incredibly easy. PWT provides all call-taking and reservation services for the system using its Calgary-based call centre to minimize the expense associated with dial-in trip bookings.

    On Demand is the Future of Local Transit

    Fixed route transit is always looking for riders to avoid empty buses but with on demand, people have booked those trips, so you know where they are and where they are going. The data compiled by all of those recorded trips is a valuable tool municipalities can use when planning schedules that cover the entire community.

    The switch to on demand has been such a success that Leduc Transit is looking at potential ways to expand the Monday-to-Friday service to include weekends.

    “What we’re looking at right now is the potential to coordinate with our paratransit service because that does operate seven days a week. We can see if there any synergies, benefits, or cost efficiencies that can occur. We’re trying to figure out a way to expand it, so stay tuned for that.”

    Leduc Transit made the switch in July 2021, and with the help of Pacific Western Transportation, the on demand transit service has been a major success story – with incredible growth in ridership and excellent customer satisfaction.

    “For municipalities that are launching a transit service in their communities, I think that the best way to start out would be doing some kind of on demand service,” Wenzel adds. “That way, you’re covering the whole community, and you can pull the data to see where the ridership is coming from. If this technology had been available in 2014 when we started Leduc Transit, we would have gone with on demand. There are just so many benefits.”

    Cost Savings Statistics:

    Cost Per Passenger After 15 Months of Operations

    June 2020 - July 2021

     

    v.s

    August 2021 - November 2022

    %

    These numbers reflect a 47% decrease in cost per passenger

    Growth Statistics:

    Ridership & Hours in Service Growth

    Since the launch of On Demand Transit in August 2021, ridership on Leduc Transit has increased 252% and has seen a 60% increase to hours in service from 8.6 to 13.8 hours.

    On-Time Performance

    Leduc’s On Demand transit service delivered an impressive 96% on-time performance, with 107 average passengers per weekday – an average of 3.9 passengers per vehicle hour. 450 flex stops with an average of a 5-minute pickup wait time.

    Customer Satisfaction

    Customer satisfaction has remained consistently high, with an average ride rating of 4.83 out of five for the over 30,000 total trips delivered.

    *statistics courtesy RideCo Leduc Case Study

    Connect with us to see how we can implement an on-demand transportation solution for your community or municipality:

    COLT Driver Touts the Benefits of On Demand Transit in Cochrane

    COLT Driver Touts the Benefits of On Demand Transit in Cochrane

    Fred Poppe knows a thing or two about On Demand transit. When the town of Cochrane, Alberta, first launched its COLT transit service in October 2019, Fred was the very first hire. And, almost three years later, he’s the last remaining driver from the inaugural crew.

    Working at COLT from the start, Fred has seen the service pick up steam in the community. As ridership grows, positive word of mouth from satisfied customers makes a big difference.

    “One lady I spoke with a couple of months back, she threw in $125 of gas into her Toyota Tacoma and said ‘enough is enough’. She started using us just to give it a try and now she’s got three of her co-workers all using COLT to get to and from work. She’s that happy with the service.”

    At only $2.50 a trip or $50 for a monthly pass, the cost-saving benefits for riders looking to avoid high gas prices are hard to ignore. However, that’s not the only reason more people opt for On Demand transit. Utilizing a traditional transit system to get across town can often mean multiple transfers, while COLT’s system gets you to your destination using only one vehicle. That’s a big plus.

    Passenger security on public transportation is also becoming a significant issue with transit riders, but the On Demand system can only be accessed by registered customers. That makes it the safest public transit available. To book a ride, you need to have an account with the COLT mobile app powered by RideCo, which requires an email address or phone number. That extra layer of security provides peace of mind to passengers.

    “A random person standing at a bus stop can’t simply climb on the bus. So, for sure there is an element of added security for our passengers. There can be no real random individual, like at the C-Train station, who could be loitering.” The bus only travels to locations where people have requested a ride.

    The environmental impact of taking more cars off the road cannot be overstated. If more people park their vehicles at home and choose On Demand transit as a sustainable transportation option, we will all be better off. As a bonus, Fred will be more than happy to battle rush hour traffic, so you don’t need to.

    “We can get our customers to where they need to go and they’re way more relaxed when they get there. That’s because they haven’t driven through the traffic, we do it for them. We generally get a lot of ‘Have a great day’, or “Thanks for the ride’. So, just from their reduced stress level, you can tell when we are doing our job well. They’re quite happy with getting to work on time with a smile on their face.”

    Speaking of having a smile on his face, Fred says the best thing about working at COLT is building relationships with his customers.

    “You know these people who have now become your friends are getting safely to work and in the evening, getting Safely Home. When you see their smiles when they get on the bus in the morning, you know that you’re doing your job right.”

    In Cochrane, the COLT On Demand transit system is just getting ramped up and ready to expand. Friendly, courteous, and professional drivers like Fred Poppe know the local community benefits from this revolutionary way of providing public transportation.

    “A lot of my customers think it’s an amazing service. We are generally there well within the time frame of the promised delivery time, so from that perspective, a lot of them really appreciate it.”

    Spruce Grove’s Switch to On Demand Transit a Major Success Story

    Spruce Grove’s Switch to On Demand Transit a Major Success Story

    It’s no secret that bedroom communities of large urban centres face multiple challenges in providing citizens with reliable and convenient public transportation. Spruce Grove, Alberta is a rapidly growing community of 38,000 located just 11 kilometres west of Edmonton. Officials found it exceedingly difficult to fund a local transit service that offered both robust mobility within the city and the ability to get riders to and from Edmonton efficiently.

    The Growing City Needed a Reliable Transit System

    Spruce Grove launched a traditional local transit service in 2019, but the route couldn’t offer riders bus stops within a reasonable walking distance of many of the city’s rapidly developing neighbourhoods. This is a community that has grown from 33,640 people in 2016 to 37,645 in 2021, so it desperately needed another transit solution. They found it with the help of Pacific Western Transportation.

    The city converted the fixed-route local service to on demand on May 3, 2021, and it never looked back. After the switch, Spruce Grove Transit has seen tremendous growth in ridership, shared rides and customer satisfaction.

    • Ridership has increased at an average rate of 15.7% per month for the past 12 months.
    • Shared rides have increased from approximately 15% at the start of the service to over 42% at present, regularly exceeding 50% on busier days.
    • Usage patterns show that the switch to on demand was both warranted and desirable for customers at a variety of times – even during off-peak hours.
    • Customer satisfaction has remained consistently high, with an average ride rating of 4.93 out of five for the over 11,000 total trips delivered.
    • In June 2022, Spruce Grove’s on demand transit service delivered an impressive 97.8% on-time performance and an average time spent in-bus of 8.6 minutes.

    The Community of Spruce Grove has Fully Embraced the Switch to On Demand Transit

    The numbers don’t lie. Spruce Grove’s on demand transit service continues to grow steadily after more than a full year of operating. In May 2021, just 220 riders used the service, but just one year later, that number expanded to a whopping 1,282. June 2022 featured another big increase, as 1,469 riders took advantage of the groundbreaking transportation service.

    The city’s on demand transit system uses technology owned by Pacific Western Transportation and a mobile app called Pick-Up On-Demand – powered by RideCo. Customers can book trips in advance and on demand using the mobile app, a web portal and over the phone.

    Pacific Western Transportation makes transitioning from a fixed-route local service to demand-based incredibly easy. PWT provides all call-taking and reservation services for the system using its Calgary-based call centre to minimize the expense associated with dial-in trip bookings.

    The community of Spruce Grove made the switch just over a year ago, and with the help of Pacific Western Transportation, the On Demand transit service has been a major success story – with incredible growth in ridership and excellent customer satisfaction.

    Ridership Statistics:

    Service Stats After One Year of Operations

    Rides completed in the first month of operations (May 2021)

     

    v.s

    Rides completed after 12 months of operations (May 2022)

    %

    These numbers reflect a 483% increase in ridership from start of project to present.

    Growth Statistics:

    Ridership Growth

    Ridership has increased at an average rate of 15.7% per month for the past 12 months. Shared rides have increased from approximately 15% at the start of the service to over 42% at present, regularly exceeding 50% on busier days.

    On-Time Performance

    In June 2022, Spruce Grove’s on demand transit service delivered an impressive 97.8% on-time performance and an average time spent in-bus of 8.6 minutes.

    Customer Satisfaction

    Customer satisfaction has remained consistently high, with an average ride rating of 4.93 out of five for the over 11,000 total trips delivered.

    Connect with us to see how we can implement an on-demand transportation solution for your community or municipality:

    PWT’s Customer Care Centre is the Heart of our On-Demand Transit Operations

    PWT’s Customer Care Centre is the Heart of our On-Demand Transit Operations

    On-demand transit service gives underserved Canadians a new, revolutionary option for their public transportation needs. At Pacific Western Transportation, we’re leading the way with multiple municipalities across Canada already utilizing our on-demand systems. What keeps all of them running like clockwork is our centralized Customer Care Centre – a key component and vital hub of our on-demand operations.

    Our call centre is fully equipped to offer dedicated support to eight different on-demand transit systems and our On-It and regional commuter services. This flexibility allows us to operate the call centre with agents who look after multiple systems, reducing both staff numbers and expenses.

    Our call centre agents are trained to book trips on multiple platforms, while offering impressive call-taking coverage. Pacific Western Transportation can also work in addition to a local transit system’s call-taking staff, facilitating extra coverage during peak customer calls and after-hours communications with riders.

    This specialized knowledge makes us unique, as we have the experience required to seamlessly convert a traditional transit operation to an on-demand service with extremely high on-time performance and customer satisfaction. Utilizing PWT’s centralized reservation resources will not only reduce average call times, it will also lower overall costs.

    Our On-Demand Customer Care Centre 2021 Performance

    • Operates 365 Days a year, 5:00 AM to midnight
    • Handling over 35,000 calls
    • Resolving over 7,200 support tickets annually
    • On-demand operators completed over 319,000 passenger trips
    • 93% on-time performance with 92% customer satisfaction

    Customers Have Multiple Options for Booking a Trip

    Our on-demand transit services primarily rely on the customer’s ability to navigate an app or browser to access a ride. However, a significant number of our clients still require a dial in option to book their trip, and that’s why our call centre remains paramount to our success.

    Our agents are ready to assist users who can’t access the app for any reason – age, cost, or unfamiliarity with technology. Here’s the bottom line: we are there to support our most vulnerable riders – those who can truly appreciate the convenient accessibility of our On-Demand Customer Care Centre. Call centre staff can create accounts, provide information on the on-demand transit service, make bookings on behalf of customers and manage customer complaints. These people are great at what they do, and there’s no better example of this than Saju Ghimire.

    On-Demand Call Centre Representative Wins R.B. Colborne Award of Excellence

    Saju Ghimire has been working for Pacific Western Transportation since the summer of 2020 and has recently been recognized with the 2021 R.B. Colborne Award of Excellence. The annual award recognizes and celebrates employees who make a significant contribution to Pacific Western Transportation through a commitment to our core values.

    As an on-demand call centre representative, Saju exemplifies the professionalism required to service our clients by troubleshooting technical difficulties, assisting with payments and showing empathy and patience when helping frustrated customers. Her excellent customer service is her defining quality, and it’s precisely what makes Saju such a valuable team member.

    “As a customer service representative, I would say that customer service is a main core value for me. Also, the safety of customers, plus drivers and co-workers, is another important core value. In my role, I have the opportunity to help different passengers who are from different cultures and vary in age, and I’m pleased I can assist them.”

    Our Call Centre Adds Tremendous Value When PWT Is Contracted to Provide On-Demand Transit Service

    At Pacific Western Transportation, our call centre can tailor a unique customer experience to any on-demand transit service. In addition, we can monitor operational KPIs and report on the performance of the many services we offer.

    We’re proud of the team we’ve put together in our On-Demand Customer Care Centre. We’d appreciate the opportunity to prove just how valuable this service can be when transitioning from conventional transit to PWT’s revolutionary on-demand service.

    Want to learn more about how our on-demand call centre can become an integral part of your local public transportation operation? Get in touch with us at ondemand@pwt.ca.

    Edmonton Transit On Demand Celebrates 1-Year of Service

    Edmonton Transit On Demand Celebrates 1-Year of Service

    On Tuesday, April 26, Edmonton Transit On Demand celebrated one year of operations – and what a year it has been! We are halfway into this two-year pilot, and we have seen incredible growth and adoption of the demand-based transit model.

    Edmonton Transit On Demand allows customers to book travel as needed, to be picked up and dropped off 9 different Edmonton Transit Hubs – allowing them to effectively transfer to traditional fixed-route service. Initially designed as a solution to connect 37 neighbourhoods and 16 seniors’ residences that do not have a regular bus route, it has since been expanded to include riders in 49 communities.

    • Starting April 24, 2022 service was added and expanded to the following neighbourhoods: Uplands, Stillwater, Glenridding Ravine, Balwin, as well as portions of Albany, Canossa, Rapperswill, Chambery, Elsinore, Klarvatten and Kinglet Gardens.
    • On Demand Transit bus stops were added to Cavanagh and Henderson Estates, and riders going to/from the Montrose community can now request service to/from Belvedere Transit Centre.

    The On Demand Service was launched as part of Edmonton Transit’s redesign of its traditional fixed-route bus routes, adding a new service layer to their integrated transit network. The growth and adoption of the service have been evident in its expansion, but let’s dig into just how well it has performed over the last year:

    Ridership Statistics:

    Weekly Service Stats

    Rides completed in the first full week of operations (April 26 - May 2, 2021)

     

    v.s

    Rides completed in the most recent week of operations (April 4 to 10, 2022)

    %

    These numbers reflect a 655% increase in ridership from start of project to present.

    Monthly Service Stats

    Rides completed in the first full month of operations (May 2021)

     

    v.s

    Rides completed in the most recent month of operations (April 2022)

    %

    These numbers reflect a 462% increase ridership from start of project to present.

    Growth Statistics:

    Ridership Growth

    We have had a ridership growth rate of 18.85%, per-month, on average from May 2021 to March 2022.

    Record Ridership

    For 17 days in 2022, the on-demand service transported more than 1,300 rides daily.

    Pick-up Times

    The average pickup ETA remains below ten minutes despite increased ridership (see below graph)

    Customer Rating

    Throughout the year we have maintained an average ride rating of 4.8/5.0

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    On-Time Performance

    Average on-time performance remains 95%+, including an average trip pick up time deviation of less than one minute

    Walk Distance:

    The average walk distance to stop has decreased as stop tweaks have been made (see graph below)

     

    We are proud to be a part of Canada’s largest On Demand transit service and are excited by the successes we have seen in the first year. We look forward to the promising possibilities of expansion into other communities – connecting people and communities is vital to our mission to be the Service Provider of Choice.

    An integral part of building a sustainable future for transportation is creating strong partnerships that foster innovative and future-focused transportation solutions. It is our people who make these solutions a reality. Thank you to the drivers, office, and call centre staff who work tirelessly to deliver this service. Because of your hard work and dedication to your community and clients, we see successes like this across our divisions each day.

    Connect with us to see how we can implement an on-demand transportation solution for your community or municipality:

    Get your employees back to work and Safely Home with on demand shuttles

    Get your employees back to work and Safely Home with on demand shuttles

    As a country, we recognize the importance of in-person connection when it comes to workplaces, education, and our daily lives. After two years of intermittent isolation, countless videoconferences, and finding creative ways to hold it all down at home with your children, many employees are eager to return to their offices and adjust to “living with COVID-19” in the safest way possible.  

     

    Employers have been preparing in many provinces across Canada, and some are already transitioning to in-office working environments again. We have learned to adapt at a moment’s notice in the last 24 months, and while we have been given the green light by the provinces who have lifted their work from home order, many employers are faced with big questions, such as: who is ready to come back? What will the adjustment to back in office life be like? And finally – perhaps most importantly – how will we safely get them back to the office? 

    Offices may be re-opening for in-person work, but that doesn’t mean everyone feels comfortable diving back into their pre-COVID commute. The solution? Demand-based shuttle services. Providing an employee shuttle is a promising and widely accepted solution that benefits both employees and employers alike. Let’s talk about why: 

    Fuel Prices  

    With rising gas prices across the country, people are hesitant to turn the ignition and commute to the office 5-days a week. Canada, specifically, is more geographically spread out than many metropolitan areas globally. So even people who live within the city limits still often have a lengthy commute to work.  

    The daily commute cost is higher than ever, and employees – both current and prospective – are using this metric as a serious factor when it comes to choosing an employer and their willingness to return to the office. Offering an employee shuttle will remove this cost for your employees and do wonders in terms of retention and new candidate attraction. 

    Sustainability 

    There will be employees who are reluctant to use conventional public transit due to health and safety concerns, or simply don’t have convenient access in their neighbourhood. This will result in an increased number of single-passenger vehicles on the road causing significant environmental and economic consequences. It will increase traffic congestion in communities, pack parking lots, and skyrocket harmful emissions. 

    With environmental awareness top of mind, more and more people are considering how we as individuals can make a positive impact. We are taking a critical look at how our environmental values align with the organizations we work for. These considerations are influencing organizations to assess how their operation’s environmental footprint stacks up – evidenced by the implementation of corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs.  

    Working in partnership with their people, companies can achieve their goals to reduce their carbon footprint by offering convenient demand-based shuttles for their workforce. Now, not only will you be one step closer to achieving your ESG goals, but you will also be contributing to the vital work that needs to be done for the sustainability of our planet. 

    Bridging the Gap 

    Some people went home in 2020 thinking they’d be remote for a few months, which has turned into two years. For them, the thought of going back to the office full-time has the potential to cause anxiety and apprehension.  

    Many employers are offering a hybrid remote-in-office option for those transitioning back to the office, and an on-demand shuttle can help bridge this gap. A demand-responsive service’s flexibility and unique application will work effectively for your employees’ individual and fluctuating schedules. 

    Summary 

    Providing an employee shuttle is a promising and widely accepted solution that benefits both employees and employers alike. It’s also not new, pre-pandemic organizations worldwide were already using technology to shuttle their essential employees to work, but there was a significant surge in its application in transporting healthcare and essential workers over the last two years.   

     

    Z

    For Employers

    Demand-based shuttles offer a safe, sustainable, and convenient way to bring people – your most valuable asset as a company – back to the office. Companies can develop a customizable system that gives them control over their return-to-workplace strategy. Employees will spend less time commuting and more time being productive. These systems aren’t limited to healthcare, downtown offices or business parks. We have successfully implemented a demand-based employee shuttle system in the oil, gas, and energy sectors – the first of its kind in Canada. 

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    For Employees

    Reliable, safe, and easy. Your employees are in control, they make their trip requests through a mobile app selecting convenient pickup points and times. There is also an employee retention benefit to be realized here, and it’s a perk for employees not to have to drive their vehicles to work every day. Between wear and tear, maintenance costs, and the rising cost of gas prices, the option for a private shuttle system is a major aspect of employee satisfaction, talent attraction, and retention.  

    On demand transportation grows in interest, awareness, and real-world applications across Canada. It’s not just employers considering it; many communities, transit agencies, and other entities are evaluating on-demand as a viable transportation option. Not only is supplying a demand-based employee shuttle service practical, but it’s also easy – for many, it comes down to deciding to operate on-demand in-house or engaging a contracted operator.  

     

    Connect with us to see how we can implement an on-demand transportation solution for your workforce: