Industrial Service Survey Results


London Transit Commission

Industrial Service Industry Review

Project Report

June 2018 – 18-7254

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction 1

2.0 Service Delivery Options 1

2.1 Common Industrial Area Service Delivery Models. 1

2.2 On-Demand Service Delivery Models. 2

2.3 Service Delivery Responsibilities. 5

3.0 Preliminary Industry Scan 6

Q2: Do you currently operate transit service to an Industrial Park Area?. 2

Q3: If yes, what type of service do you provide? (select all that apply). 2

Q4: Is your industrial service strategy working for you?. 3

Q5: Do you operate any alternative service delivery models that may be applicable in a low-density area such as an Industrial Park? (select all that apply). 3

Q6: If you are willing to participate in a short interview to elaborate on the service, please list the name, phone number, and email address of an individual we can contact for further information below: 4

4.0 Telephone Survey Case Studies 5

4.1 Bancroft Community Transit (BCT). 5

4.2 Brampton Transit. 7

4.3 Grand River Transit (GRT). 8

4.4 Lindsay Transit. 10

4.5 Parkland County. 11

4.6 Winnipeg Transit. 13

4.7 York Region Transit (YRT). 15

5.0 Summary 17


A SurveyMonkey Responses Summary

B Phone Interview Response Summary

1.0 Introduction

Dillon Consulting Limited (Dillon) was retained by the London Transit Commission (LTC) to conduct a peer review of various industrial park transit services provided by other transit systems in Canada. The peer review is also intended to gather information about how transit can serve other low density areas. The purpose of this report is to document the findings of the study, which are intended to be used by LTC to develop an Industry Park Transit Service Strategy for its own industrial areas.

The assignment involved two phases. Phase 1 involved a short survey hosted on SurveyMonkey to gather preliminary information on industrial route service and/or other on-demand models that could be applicable to industrial park areas that are currently provided by transit systems across Canada. Phase 2 involved a more detailed review of six properties to better understand the operational details and implementation issues of the industrial service and/or on-demand service models. Each of these phases is documented in the sections below, following a general discussion of service delivery options.

2.0 Service Delivery Options

2.1 Common Industrial Area Service Delivery Models

Servicing an industrial area is a common requirement of a local transit agency but is sometimes treated differently from the regular service offered to other parts of the municipality. In Phase 1 of this study municipalities were asked via SurveyMonkey which of the following models they used to service their industrial parks, recognizing that more than one model could be used by a single transit agency.

  1. Fixed-route service

The standard fixed-route approach is a regular route that operates on a fixed schedule and serves the industrial area(s). A fixed-route service to an industrial area is a traditional, standard transit service approach. An industrial area fixed-route often only operates during peak periods on weekdays but can also include weekend, midday, and overnight service.

  1. Trippers

The tripper model is an extension of the general fixed-route service. Additional buses – or “trippers” – are sent out to supplement the fixed-route service during short-term peak demand periods (such as same shift start or end times for multiple employees) to protect against overcrowding. Sufficient demand must warrant an operation of a tripper before it is added to the schedule. Adding a tripper bus increases the frequency of service for the critical demand time. For industrial area service, trippers would generally be focused on employee shift times.

  1. Branch routes

Branch routes are a variant of a fixed-route service. Branch routes are a pattern of a regular route that deviates from the main route serving a different area and/or terminal point. These branch routes often have less frequent service than the main route and are more suitable to lower demand destinations, such as industrial park areas.

  1. Employment/Industrial Shuttles

Employment or industrial shuttles are alternatives to a fixed-route service. This model is usually adopted in partnership with the employers, who will request pick-up and drop-off transit service for their workers during peak shift periods. The shuttles would service only employees of the partnering employers, picking them up at either pre-determined “stops” or at their homes, and dropping them off at the entrance to their place of employment (with the reverse trip being complete at the end of a shift). Employment or industrial shuttles do not run outside of the shift start and end-times and do not typically serve the general public.

  1. On-Demand Service

Unlike a fixed route or shuttle service, on-demand service is a transit service that adapts specifically to the needs of each individual employee. It does not follow a fixed routing nor does it adhere to a fixed schedule. There are multiple models of on-demand service, which are discussed in more detail in the following Section 2.2. Some examples of on-demand service for industrial areas could include the use of specialized vehicles or TransCabs, and/or mobile app integration.

  1. Transportation Demand Management Strategies

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies are partnerships with employers to help shape demand. They can come in a variety of formats, and include (but are not limited to) providing employees with transit fare credits, an emergency ride home program, and opportunities to minimize peak travel demands (flex work hours, telework).

2.2 On-Demand Service Delivery Models

On-demand transit, also referred to as microtransit or demand-responsive transit, is a traditional form of mobility that is experiencing a resurgence with the help of technology. Dynamic transit is the larger umbrella term encompassing several different service models, and is generally characterized by four components that differentiate it from conventional fixed-route transit:

  1. Flexible routing and/or scheduling designed to suit customer demand;
  2. Newly-emerged “mobility brokers” who use mobile apps to connect supply and demand;
  3. Use of smaller, more flexible vehicles; and
  4. Integration of multiple transportation services to complete a trip (using a mobile app).

Dynamic transit can be differentiated from conventional transit in the way that it caters to individual needs. In a dynamic transit model, the transit service adapts to its customers, while in conventional transit service models, transit customers must adapt to the service offered. In many cases, this provides greater convenience and customization – moving towards some of the favourable characteristics of private automobile travel. As illustrated in Figure 1, dynamic transit (referred to as “On-demand Microtransit” in the figure) offers a level of flexibility, convenience, and individualism somewhere between regular fixed route transit (“public collective transport”) and private individual transport.

Dynamic transit can be used to provide a wide array of service delivery models, each with a specific goal.

Figure 1: Attributes of Dynamic Transit

There is currently a variety of dynamic transit service options that are utilized by public transit agencies around the world. The SurveyMonkey poll (discussed in more detail in Section 3.0) asked Canadian respondents to check off any of the following on-demand models that they were using for their industrial areas or within any other parts of their service area.

It should be noted while six service delivery models are noted, overlap does exist and often a dynamic transit solution will fit into more than one of the models described below:

  1. First Mile / Last Mile

The first mile / last mile service delivery model uses dynamic transit to provide transit to customers in lower demand areas with connectivity to/from major destinations such as rapid transit stations, the downtown core or Central Business District, post-secondary institutions, etc. Dynamic transit complements existing public transit services by providing access to/from higher demand transit routes (e.g. rapid transit stations) or provides an alternative mobility option when it is not cost effective for the public agency to operate fixed-route buses to deliver the service. Service is delivered with dynamic and flexible routing and scheduling based on customer travel needs. It can either be delivered by the public transit agency or contracted out to a third-party provider (e.g. taxi company, ridesharing service, etc.). Dynamic routes are created to satisfy the needs of more than one customer at once (where applicable), however, can involve a single person in a vehicle when demand is low. Customers generally request trips using a smartphone app, although call-in arrangements are often provided for those without smartphones. If the service is delivered by a third-party provider there is often no cost associated with the service if a trip is not requested and delivered.

  1. Microtransit

Microtransit is generally defined as a privately operated transit system, generally operating in the same space or along similar routes as public transit. Some examples of Mircotransit include Bridj (Australia), and Chariot (USA). Microtransit operators can provide greater operational flexibility since they do not face the same regulatory or funding constraints as public transit agencies. Services are generally more tailored to match both short-term and long-term changes in customer demand. Services provided are typically selective, based on financial performance, connecting residential areas with the financial district or major rapid transit stations. Services generally provide more customer amenities such as Wi-Fi, USB outlets and food for purchase. Microtransit also utilizes big data to tailor service to connect major origins and destinations. This can either be pre-planned when creating a fixed route (e.g. Chariot uses crowdsourcing to create a route), or is more dynamic, with the route and schedule changing daily based on on-demand service requests using a smartphone app.

  1. Flex-Route

Flexible routing is a simple form of dynamic transit which is typically implemented in low-demand areas and allows transit agencies to provide additional coverage using a limited resource. Flex routes operate on a fixed route and fixed schedule for certain portions of the route. At the request of a passenger, the driver has the ability to ‘flex’ off the route to pre-designated areas to pick up or drop off a passenger. The benefit of flex routes is that it allows the resource to provide coverage to a larger area that may have limited demand without the need to invest in additional service.

  1. Specialized Transit Integration

Specialized transit (paratransit) integration is a variation of First Mile / Last Mile dynamic transit. Specialized Transit is a very common form of dynamic transit, as routes and schedules are dynamically assigned based on customer needs. Registered specialized transit passengers must request trips ahead of time through a customer call centre, website, or mobile app. The transit agency then chooses a vehicle and designs a route which best accommodates the customer (and others if there is potential to combine trips within the timeframe).

There are a number of examples of transit agencies who are integrating specialized transit services with conventional transit services. Instead of limiting the use of specialized transit vehicles to a specific demographic (i.e. persons with disabilities), the service model is used to deliver services for all customers in low demand areas. This eliminates the need to have two separate buses in areas where demand is low. A specialized transit vehicle is used to pick up both conventional transit passengers and registered specialized transit passengers. Conventional passengers are taken to the nearest fixed-route to complete their trip, while specialized transit passengers may stay on the specialized vehicle to complete their trip if their disability prevents them from traveling on the transit agency’s conventional buses.

  1. Guaranteed Ride Home

Dynamic transit can be used as a “guaranteed ride home” in an effort to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home. Many commuters are hesitant to take transit in case an unexpected event occurs which would require immediate transportation to a specific location. Such events rarely occur, but the potential to be left stranded acts as a barrier to those who might otherwise take transit. Guaranteed ride home programs are often funded by employers (e.g., warehouse, factory) to encourage their employees to take alternative modes to the private automobile or to support employees who do not have access to one.

  1. Trip Planning Integration

Perhaps the simplest form of dynamic transit, customer trip planning integration simply makes customers aware of the options which exist for their trip during the trip planning phase. This can arise through integration of several types of dynamic transit options into an agency’s trip planning app. A customer may be offered several options for one portion of their journey, which could include microtransit, ridesharing, commuter shuttles, or a first mile / last mile service. In many cases, there is no fare integration between the different services. Customers are simply provided travel options using one source.

2.3 Service Delivery Responsibilities

Each of the industrial and on-demand service delivery models identified above may also be delivered in one of three different ways. The following are three possibilities of the potential involvement of the public and private sectors in service delivery:

  1. Municipal

Under a municipal service delivery model, the transit service is provided by the municipality (transit agency). A third party may be involved to provide the technology platform, but the municipality remains the sole provider of the actual service.

  1. Private

In private service delivery models, private transportation network companies (such as Uber, Lyft, or taxi companies) are responsible for planning and delivering the service. Often, these companies provide and manage the technology platforms as well as the service.

  1. Partnership

Service delivery through a partnership involves a municipality/transit agency and private organization partnering to manage different parts of the service delivery process (common in first mile / last mile services).

3.0 Preliminary Industry Scan

For the first phase of the project, a brief survey hosted on SurveyMonkey was sent out to all English-speaking Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) member agencies as well as 10 Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) member agencies. In total, 34 responses to this survey were received, from agencies including:

  • Airdrie Transit
  • Barrie Transit
  • Calgary Transit
  • City of Stratford
  • Grand Prairie Transit
  • Greater Sudbury Transit
  • Kingston Transit
  • Leduc Transit
  • Medicine Hat – Municipal Government – City Bus Transit System
  • Saint John Transit Commission
  • Sault Ste Marie Transit
  • St Albert Transit
  • Wasaga Beach Transit
  • Waterloo Region – Grand River Transit
  • Welland Transit
  • Halifax Transit
  • Thunder Bay Transit
  • Brampton Transit
  • Winnipeg Transit
  • Sarnia Transit
  • GO Transit (Metrolinx)
  • MiWay Transit (Mississauga)
  • Durham Region Transit
  • BC Transit
  • Regina Transit
  • Red Deer Transit
  • OC Transpo
  • Fort Erie Transit
  • CK Transit, Municipality of Chatham-Kent
  • Orillia Transit
  • Bancroft Community Transit
  • Lindsay Transit
  • Brockville Transit
  • Quinte Access Transportation/Quinte West, Brighton and Prince Edward County

The responses were reviewed to identify six agencies with unique service models that could be applicable to the development of and/or have valuable insights to help develop LTC’s industrial area service model.

The following sections summarize the responses to the SurveyMonkey survey, organized by subsequent survey question. Detailed responses to the survey questionnaire are include in Appendix A. Note that the first question asked the respondent to identify which transit agency they represented.

Q2: Do you currently operate transit service to an Industrial Park Area?

34 responses

Of the respondents, 28 agencies stated that they provide some form of industrial transit service.

Q3: If yes, what type of service do you provide? (select all that apply)

57 selections

For the respondent who checked off “Other,” the comment stated that the municipality had no industrial areas to service.

Q4: Is your industrial service strategy working for you?

A little over half of the respondents stated that their industrial service strategy was effective but over 35% stated that their strategy was either ineffective or they did not know whether it was effective.

Q5: Do you operate any alternative service delivery models that may be applicable in a low-density area such as an Industrial Park? (select all that apply)

46 selections

For the option “Other,” the following responses were collected:

  • “Currently working on a strategy to incorporate these delivery models”
  • “Specialized Services clients who qualify for integrated services are eligible to coordinate their trip on both Fixed route and specialized service”
  • “Schedule time table integration at GO stations”
  • “Alternative service strategy to be developed in 2018-19”
  • “Not now, but we are considering to replace the service to low density area with on demand service”
  • “Community Bus option similar to microtransit”

Q6: If you are willing to participate in a short interview to elaborate on the service, please list the name, phone number, and email address of an individual we can contact for further information below:

In total, 19 transit agencies responded to the final optional question, indicating willingness to be further contacted as part of the more detailed telephone survey.

4.0 Telephone Survey Case Studies

This section includes a detailed description of the six transit agencies that had models considered to be of interest to LTC’s industrial service strategy. The case studies were selected for this targeted in-depth review with the goal of examining a variety of service delivery models as well as noting both successes and failures of the aforementioned models. The selected case studies are as follows:

  1. Bancroft Community Transit
  2. Brampton Transit
  3. Grand River Transit
  4. Lindsay Transit
  5. Pacific West Transportation (Parkland County)
  6. Winnipeg Transit
  7. York Region Transit

Information presented in this section was derived from phone interviews with each of the respective transit agencies. Dillon conducted these interviews in April 2018. A detailed log of interview questions and agency responses are included in Appendix B.

4.1 Bancroft Community Transit (BCT)

Service Region Bancroft, Ontario (primarily – see below)
Industrial Service Delivery Model n/a
On-Demand Service Delivery Model Specialized Transit Integration
On-Demand Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal

4.1.1 Industrial Service Model

BCT does not have an industrial area to service and thus does not have an industrial service model.

4.1.2 On-Demand Service Model

Since 2017, BCT has been providing both specialized and public transit service to residents of the Town of Bancroft as well as other municipalities within a 50km radius of Bancroft. Public transit service is provided with a fixed route in the downtown Bancroft core area as well as dynamic transit for the remainder of the service area.

The downtown Bancroft fixed route service (with a fare of $2 per trip) is operated by a contractor (RNL Bus Lines). The service runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, and from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on Sundays. The downtown service sees ridership of 30 to 40 rides per day on Tuesdays and Fridays, as well as 20 to 30 rides per day on Sundays. The service was initiated last year and the service is well received. Riders have requested increased fixed-route service and possible expansion to 5 days a week. Since the model is quite new, ridership remains the key indicator and measure of success for BCT. RNL Bus Lines sets the rate for service to cover vehicle maintenance, operators, and liability.

Dynamic transit is also provided to the community on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, with return trip fares ranging from $5 to $7.50 (depending on the municipality of origin or destination). The trips will pick up the rider from a pickup point of their choice and drop them off at the front door of a community agency (such as the Health Unit, Ontario Works, Children’s Aid Society, etc.). These trips must be booked at least 24 hours in advance using an online form or by calling the BCT dispatch service. The trips are made using BCT’s fleet – 3 minivans (one of which is wheelchair accessible). It is noted that 100% of the gas tax that was received goes into providing the service and that the average cost is approximately $30 per hour to operate the vans which is significantly less than other transit agencies that own, operate and maintain vehicles for fixed route transit services. This is due to the use of smaller vehicles, and voluntary drivers, even though $5 million liability is required per vehicle. There is a 3 stage driver screening program to ensure that volunteers are in good standing. The service is considered successful with demand for additional drivers. Paid drivers are being considered for the future.

In addition to the public transit service, BCT also operates specialized service 6 days a week for Bancroft and Belleville, operated by 50 volunteer drivers from both towns. This service brings riders to medical appointments in Kingston and/or the GTAH. The specialized service uses the same fleet as the public service and averages about 20,000 rides per year. The specialized service must also be pre-booked in advance and provides door-to-door service for eligible users.

Booking for both services are completed using manual dispatch and the routes are communicated to the drivers prior to the start of their trip.

4.1.3 Summary

The combination of fixed route service in downtown Bancroft with on-demand transit serving the surrounding low-density area is typical for rural towns attempting to provide affordable transportation to its residents. This model may thus make a lot of financial sense for a low-demand industrial area with only a few employers and without a wide variety of shift and end-times.

However, trip lengths can be very long between Bancroft and Bellville. So when BCT services trips destined to Kingston or the GTAH for medical appointments, the remaining resources (drivers and vehicles) to serve local needs are minimized. Therefore, the use of the same on-demand fleet for different service models may results in resource pressures on the transit agency.

4.2 Brampton Transit

Service Region Brampton, Ontario
Industrial Service Delivery Model Fixed-route, Trippers & Branch Route
Industrial Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal
On-Demand Service Delivery Model n/a

4.2.1 Industrial Service Model I – Fixed-Route

Brampton Transit operates standard fixed-route routes to service industrial land uses around the Bramalea GO station in the eastern portion of Brampton. These routes operate with 30-minute service headways during the AM peak, PM peak, and midday periods. Trippers are added to supplement the routes if passenger volume warrants are triggered in order to prevent overcrowding. The routes are not customized in partnership with employers in the area, though Brampton Transit has reached out to employers in the past and did not receive much effort or enthusiasm from the employers.

4.2.2 Industrial Service Model II – Branch Route

In the beginning of 2018, Brampton Transit started operating a branch of Route 11, which runs along the Steeles Ave W corridor, alongside the Züm BRT Route 511, terminating at the Lisgar GO Station in the southwestern portion of Brampton. Rather than an industrial service only model, this model is more of an extension to the existing fixed-route service that is developed to accommodate major employers in Brampton.

Both variations of Route 11 (as well as Route 511) serve the Amazon Fulfillment Center on Steeles Ave W. The branch route, “11d,” takes a detour along the route to loop to a “Maple Lodge Farm” processing plant before rejoining the main route and ending the trip at the same terminus. The routes are still a fixed-service but operate to accommodate shift start and end times throughout the day and are supplemented with trippers as necessary. Both the fixed and the branch routes use ridership and boarding’s per revenue service hour (B/RSH) as key performance indicators (KPIs).

Routes 11 and 511 were worked out in partnership with the major employers such as Amazon and other employers along the corridor and Route 11d was developed at the request of Maple Lodge Farms. Though the employers do not financially contribute to the routes’ operation, they pay for sidewalks, stop pads, and shelters on their property (with Brampton Transit providing stop and shelter standards, as required). The employers also agree to make modifications on the driveway to their property to accommodate buses and potential bus turn-arounds. The schedules along the main route and branch route are developed through consultations with employers to ensure that all major peaks are being served (i.e.: shift start and end times, with accommodation for prep or clean up, respectively).

4.2.3 On-Demand Service Model

Brampton Transit does not utilize any other on-demand service models that could be applicable to LTC’s industrial service strategy. They have indicated that an alternative service strategy is to be developed in 2018-2019.

4.2.4 Summary

The fixed route model with added trippers is best applied when there is a need for a base service that serves multiple employers and industrial areas within walking distance to the route. It is also beneficial for larger employers (such as Amazon) with a significant number trips being made at shift times and when the existing conventional route faces overcrowding (usually due to the significantly increased transit demand at shift times).

The branch route option (used by Brampton to service Maple Lodge Farms) also offers flexibility to service an employer is located outside a reasonable walking distance of a core route but requires service for multiple daily shift times only at times that the shift rider demands warrant service. And although Brampton Transit does not currently identify a minimum B/RVH to service their industrial employer partners, the benefit of branching the route is that the agency can measure the B/RVH of individual branches.

Both of the industrial park models used by Brampton transit make most sense in the presence of one or more large employers who can partner with the transit agency and generate sufficient transit demand.

4.3 Grand River Transit (GRT)

Service Region Region of Waterloo, Ontario
Industrial Service Delivery Model Fixed-route, Specialized Transit Integration, On-demand
Industrial Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal
On-Demand Service Delivery Model First mile/last mile, flex route
On-Demand Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal

4.3.1 Industrial Service Models

GRT services industrial areas across the Region of Kitchener-Waterloo with three different models:

  1. Three specialized routes that operate through almost solely industrial park areas. These routes are not advertised as part of the regular GRT route collection and operate at predetermined times once a day on weekdays. At least one of the routes was planned with the input of one key employer in the industrial area it services to determine scheduling to fit the shift times. Two of the routes operate starting between 6am and 7am and one route begins its trips at 11:30pm. In March 2018 they attracted between 23 and 40 boardings per hour. No service standards are used for these special trips. These specialized services are being eliminated in the future once the LRT is operational and bus service will be more streamlined. The special trips will be absorbed by the regular routes that serve the area.
  2. Three peak only weekday fixed routes. One of the routes operates through a residential neighbourhood, and residents want service all day so there are plans for splitting the route. This way residents will be served all day long while the industrial area will only be served during peak periods. In March 2018, the peak only routes attracted between 16 and 38 boardings per hour.
  3. One busPLUS route in Cambridge, which uses a specialized transit vehicle and is operated by a contractor. This model is often used by GRT for new subdivisions or service area additions that start out with low-demand. If demand increases overtime, the busPLUS route is usually replaced by a regular GRT route. Contracting out a portion of the service can be a potential union issue, however this has been overcome by operating these busPLUS routes where there has never been service in the past; it is a complementary service not a substitution, and an existing service cannot be replaced with the contracted service. In March 2018, the busPLUS route attracted 15 boardings per hour in peak periods.

4.3.2 On-Demand Service Model

GRT offers an on-demand service between the community of New Hamburg and the Boardwalk strip mall in Waterloo (and stop between the two destinations). Users of the model must call to pre-book the service in advance but booking can be made on the same day as the service is provided. The route of the on-demand service is fixed, with flex route options to service additional townships. This service model started as a pilot with Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) funding in April 2015 and currently averages 800 boardings/month. There has been positive feedback from the public and they are looking to expand the FLEX service. There are no service standards that are used for the routes, however it was noted that 12% of GRT boardings were on FLEX.

The benefits of the FLEX service is that it can use smaller buses, however the cost of marketing the new service as well as the extra administration required must also be factored. For GRT, they leveraged partnerships with Kiwanis Transit as well as other local communities to administer (dispatch) and market the service.

GRT is also currently considering additional first mile/last mile dynamic transit options for their Alternative Service Delivery strategy, as identifies in GRT’s strategic Business Plan. Options for this include possible rideshare and taxi partnerships for on-demand service. GRT plans to start pilots to explore the possibilities for this strategy in 2018.

4.3.3 Summary

For the fixed route models, each model comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages:

  • The specialized route works best for very low-demand and non-peak high demand times (such as 11pm shift starts/ends). However, it has very infrequent service, and as an unscheduled trip, it does not attract many riders other than employees for a particular employer with little other activity throughout the length of the trip.
  • The peak period fixed routes best service demands during commuter peaks for multiple employers in the industrial area. These routes do not serve non-peak demands and are not flexible if major employers are not in close proximity to the route.
  • The busPLUS is a great starter service for newly serviced areas but may not have the capacity or frequency to accommodate increased demand in the long term. They generally serve rural and emerging areas with low transit demand in order to lay the groundwork for future service expansion. The contracted service works well, with potential union concerns being mitigated by ensuring that existing GRT routes do not get replaced with contracted services.

Additionally, though the variation in the types of industrial services works for GRT, which services the entire Region of Waterloo, such differences in industrial service offerings within a single municipality may be confusing for transit users. However, the multiple models used ensures that employees are provided with service as needed, and that transit riders have certainty that their demands can be met.

GRT’s existing on-demand service is a flexible and adaptable to low-demand areas (including industrial park areas) to help them complete the first or last mile of their trips. It is most suitable for low-demand areas with shorter total trip distances (to and from regular routes). However, this model adds additional administrative operation costs (for dispatch) and possible service trade-offs if the service is demanded by too many passengers spread out across the service area at the same time. Additionally, the service must be pre-booked in advance, making it less convenient for its users.

4.4 Lindsay Transit

Service Region Lindsay, Ontario
Industrial Service Delivery Model Fixed-route
Industrial Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal
On-Demand Service Delivery Model Specialized Transit
On-Demand Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal

4.4.1 Industrial Service Model

Lindsay Transit runs three fixed-routes within its service area. Despite having three of the major employers end operations in Lindsay in the 1990s, the northeastern part of the community remains the industrial park and is serviced by one of the three routes. The industrial route operates once an hour on weekdays from 7am to 7pm. All stops along the industrial route have accessible bus shelters and complete sidewalks to meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements.

The only measure that is used to evaluate performance is ridership. When there was higher employment in the industrial area and higher ridership on the route, service frequency was much better with buses operating at 20 minute headways during peak periods. Employers are consulted but do not contribute to the operation of the industrial area route. There is currently no minimum service standard and no 10-year operational funding plan in place. Therefore, there is a yearly potential risk of budget cuts for the transit service, which would result in loss of service for transit users.

The conventional routes (including the route servicing the industrial park area) use specialized transit vehicles.

4.4.2 On-Demand Service Model

Lindsay Transit’s on-demand specialized transit service model is used only to service riders with disabilities.

4.4.3 Summary

The all-day fixed route industrial service model in Lindsay Transit works for the community since the route also provides service to other residential areas and all day connections to the core, even though the industrial park area is not as active as it has been historically and doesn’t provide as many boardings. If the route did not pass through residential areas, it is unlikely that the fixed weekday model would be most cost effective or applicable. Therefore, this model may not be applicable for agencies with entire routes that pass through industrial parks only.

4.5 Parkland County

Service Region Acheson Business Park, Parkland County, Alberta
Industrial Service Delivery Model Microtransit
Industrial Service Delivery Responsibility Contracted Service Provider: Pacific Western Transportation (PWT)

4.5.1 Industrial Service Model

PWT operates an on-demand microtransit service to the Acheson Business Park in Parkland County, Alberta. Acheson serves as the industrial centre for Parkland County and is located between the cities of Edmonton and Spruce Grove.

The service is provided with a 20-passenger wheelchair accessible coach minibus that serves the first-mile / last mile of a trip between two pre-determined stops located at existing Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) stops near Alberta Highway 16 and 16a and each place of employment. In the morning the bus picks up passengers at the pre-determined stops and brings them to work while in the afternoon the shuttle picks workers up from their workplace and drops them off back at the stopes for connecting to ETS buses. The microstransit service operates during the weekday AM and PM peak periods, operating from 6:30AM to 9:00AM and from 3:30PM to 5:30 PM. Taxes paid by each business within the Acheson Business Park cover the full cost of the service; i.e. the service is free for all riders (no passenger fare revenue).

During the AM period, the service departs from the designated stops at pre-scheduled times coinciding with ETS bus arrivals, while in the PM peak period the service is on-demand and has to be requested via an app or by calling the dispatch number. Users can request for PM service several days in advance or immediately as required. The service model has been structured such that if there are no on-demand riders in the PM then the bus is not required to be in operations. The PM service therefore needs to be “triggered” (1 hour in advance of PM peak period) however once it is in operation, then additional calls can be accommodated as soon as possible.

The typical duration from pick up to drop off is approximately 10 minutes and the service averages about 6 to 8 riders per daily peak. Parkland County pays PWT for the service for the 2.5 hour AM peak period. In the PM peak, PWT is paid for every hour in which at least one trip is made. Since this service’s commencement in March 2017, there has been at least one trip made every peak period of operation

Performance metrics other than total ridership are not used by the service provider. The service will be in operation for the duration of the contract regardless if it is over or under performing. Costs for providing the service will be reviewed with project stakeholders including the County and local employers when contracts expire.

4.5.2 Summary

The Acheson service provides employees with a guaranteed first mile/last mile option from and to other major transit routes and/or accessible pick-up and drop-off carpooling points. The integration of an app for users to request trips at relatively short notice after work and the guaranteed pick up from one of the two bus stations in the morning makes this an attractive option for employees who may not have alternative methods of commuting to their place of work. The service complements other transit services (ETS) that travel adjacent and through the industrial area, with no added user cost.

PWT uses one coach style minibus to provide the service at all times. The current ridership numbers do not reflect the need for such a large vehicle if ridership is not expected to grow. During the PM peak period when the service is fully on-demand, the shuttle may be accommodating a single passenger trip at a time. Therefore, it may be more efficient to use this model and provide service with a smaller vehicle, such as a mini-van at a lower cost to local employers.

Recently, Parkland County and PWT have been approached by a local First Nation community who have expressed interest in extending this service to their community. This would allow members of the community to better access job opportunities in the Acheson Business Park.

The microtransit model has proven to be very successful for the Acheson Business Park. It provides service to an industrial area that is not served by municipal transit service due to low demand, it can be tailored to accommodate specific shift times, and makes the industrial area more desirable for employees, employers and the County with increased occupancy and industry growth. If demand for the service were to increase significantly, the model would potentially require modifications in scheduling and pooling riders in the PM peak period as well as addition of buses to fleet.

4.6 Winnipeg Transit

Service Region Winnipeg, Manitoba
Industrial Service Delivery Model Fixed-route, Trippers
Industrial Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal
On-Demand Service Delivery Model First mile/last mile
On-Demand Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal

4.6.1 Industrial Service Model

A weekday peak period fixed-route service is provided in the three industrial parks, typically at intervals of approximately every 30 minutes. Standard bus stops are provided and, where warranted by boarding volumes, shelters are installed at the busiest stops. The ridership varies with the type of employment (e.g. call centres generate more ridership than agricultural implement manufacturers).

If a request is made by an industrial business for additional service during non-peak periods to accommodate a shift change or during peak periods for more frequent service, then a partnership arrangement is worked out. Winnipeg Transit will operate the additional service, keep track of average daily boardings per trip from the automated passenger counter (APC) or driver counts, and, at the end of each month, invoice the employer for the difference between the variable operational costs of the additional service and the fare revenue collected on the additional service (passengers pay regular transit fares). The fare revenue is calculated as number of boardings x average adult fare. If the fare revenue exceeds the variable operational costs, then Transit keeps the excess revenue.

This approach results in the variable cost of operation of the additional service being shared between the passengers (though their fares) and the employer (through the monthly subsidy payment, if required) with no net impact on the transit budget. Such services can only be implemented at the start of a booking and must be operated throughout the booking. This allows the additional service to be incorporated into the regular bus operator work assignments for the booking, rather than being operated off the spareboard. This keeps the operating costs of the requested service as low as possible. The service can be cancelled for subsequent bookings at the discretion of the employer. If fare revenues consistently exceed variable operating costs over a period of several months, then Winnipeg Transit will consider incorporating the additional service into the regular schedule.

4.6.2 On-Demand Service Model

In the 1990’s, Winnipeg Transit implemented several Dial-a-Ride (DART) services in low-density residential areas during periods of low demand. This replaced fixed-route service operated by 40-foot buses with a flexible service operated by 30-foot buses. Six DART services were implemented, of which four still operate today. Three of the four operate weekday evenings and weekends, the other operates weekday middays and Saturday days.

DART services are based at the end terminal of a mainline route and have scheduled departures shortly following the arrival of a bus on the mainline route. When passengers board the DART bus (mostly transfers from the mainline route), they tell the bus operator their destinations and pay a regular transit fare, the operator determines the routing to accommodate all requests, and the DART bus then operates through the defined service area, servicing all drop-offs and pick-ups to arrive back at the mainline terminal to meet the next mainline bus arriving from downtown. The DART operator is equipped with a cell phone and persons living or working in the DART service area can call to reserve a pick-up to travel within the service area or to transfer to the next bus on the mainline route. Passengers need to call about 30 minutes in advance of the time they want to be picked up. In general, the DART bus needs about an hour after leaving the terminal to service all drop-offs and pick-ups and to return to the terminal in time to meet the next mainline bus. The service works reasonably well for passenger volumes up to 10 boardings per bus hour. The early evening trips on one of the services had to be converted back to fixed route because the passenger volumes were too high for the demand responsive approach.

In general, users of DART have very short walking distances but less frequency. Users of the fixed route services in these areas had better frequency, but longer walking distances, prior to the implementation of DART.

The operating costs of the two service approaches are about the same, so there is no cost advantage to the demand responsive service. In two of the six areas, DART did not provide much, if any, reduction in walking distances as the previous fixed route provided good coverage. Residents of those areas preferred the fixed route service, as the schedule and routing are fixed and no trip reservations are required, making it less complicated to use than DART. Today (with reference to Appendix B), three of the four routes experience very low daily ridership and there are discussions about ending this service offering.

4.6.3 Summary

Winnipeg’s fixed model includes partnerships with major employers for providing services to the industrial park areas. This allows Winnipeg Transit to breakeven on the route operation that would mostly serve employees of the industrial park area. Collaboration and good relationships with the industrial area employers are key to making such a partnership work. While employers contribute financially to the route’s operation, Winnipeg Transit also accommodates employer’s request for service during shift and end times, if necessary.

For the on-demand service, the cost-effectiveness of the DART service in low-demand areas is a definite advantage as it is only sent into operation when a request is made to dispatch. However, considering Winnipeg’s most recent low ridership with the on-demand service, there is a possibility that even this on-demand service may not make financial sense in extremely low demand areas.

4.7 York Region Transit (YRT)

Service Region Region of York, Ontario
Industrial Service Delivery Model Fixed-route
Industrial Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal
On-Demand Service Delivery Model First mile/last mile
On-Demand Service Delivery Responsibility Municipal

4.7.1 Industrial Service Model

YRT operates an extensive fixed route network with routes that serve major employment and industrial areas. Routes are generally connected to VIVA BRT corridors on Yonge Street, Highway 7, and Davis Drive. The focus of the telephone interview was their on-demand service.

4.7.2 On-Demand Service Model

YRT operates the on-demand model in low-density residential areas, which allows customers to get service in locations within the Region where conventional fixed-route transit service is limited. To use the on-demand service, customers call in advance to book a trip (YRT recommends at least 60 minutes in advance of anticipated pick-up time but will do its best to accommodate shorter booking timeframes). Customers then have to make it to a pre-determine pick-up point within 5 minutes of the bus’s arrival. Once customers are picked up, the vehicle continues along its route (which is determined by the number of bookings and waiting customers during that time period within the particular defined service area).

Currently, calling the on-demand service number is the only way to book the service and scheduling is done manually (though each route is integrated with the base route). Future plans include app integration of this service. YRT is also considering operating this service in partnership with a company like Uber. The partnership would add additional vehicles to YRT’s current fleet that is used for this service, thus increasing transit capacity. It would also give customers the choice to pick their method of travel and make personal trade-offs between cost, travelling time, and more.

For the on-demand service model, York Region has been subdivided in 19 urban and rural zones. The zone divisions are done to ensure that each zone is within a certain distance of a major arterial, which is serviced by a base route. The base routes operate at least every 30 minutes throughout the day from Monday to Friday (though their exact span of service depends on the route and its location). Customers ordering on-demand service are transported to the nearest base route stop. Currently, booking an on-demand service trip differs slightly by zone (i.e. based on advance request notice required, etc.).

4.7.3 Summary

YRT uses several KPIs to determine which model is applicable for the particular area. The KPIs and their corresponding cut-offs used by YRT for consideration/evaluation when to add On-Demand versus fixed route bus service include:

Table 1 – YRT: Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Key Performance Indicator Targets and thresholds
Passenger trips per service hour Urban: 2.0 to 10.0

Rural: 1.0 to 5.0

Return to bus: over 10.0 passengers per hour

Cost per service hour Similar to Mobility Plus; no more than 50% of current fixed YRT bus rate
Average cost per vehicle kilometer Urban: $2.80 to $4.00

Rural: $4.00 to $8.00

GO Shuttle: $2.80 to $4.00

Operating cost per passenger trip Urban: $7.00 to $28.00

Rural: $20.00 to $40.00

GO Shuttle: $7.00 to $28.00

Average trip length Urban: 0 to 10 km

Rural: 0 to 20 km (up to 10 km to closest operating base route)

GO Shuttle: 1 to 15 km

In general, the on-demand model is preferred in contexts with less passenger trips per service hour and shorter trip lengths. When these conditions are present, the on-demand model generally makes more financial sense. However, once passenger trips per service hour and trip lengths begin to increase, a fixed route becomes more warranted.

5.0 Summary

The industry scan of industrial area transit service suggests that there are a variety of models that are currently being used across Canada, including variations of fixed route services as well as other dynamic transit models. The majority of properties operate fixed route services with limited service frequency generally focused during peak periods, and/or periods that coincide with employee shifts.

Properties that serve low demand areas with dynamic transit services have been able to take advantage of numerous benefits:

  • flexible routing and on-demand scheduling;
  • use of smaller, “right-sized” vehicles;
  • complementarity and integration with higher forms of transit;
  • partnerships with new mobility actors and software developers; and
  • leveraging smartphone-based applications to deliver, monitor, evaluate service.

There is a growing interest among transit agencies in Canada to include the dynamic transit service model as part of their family of services.

  • SurveyMonkey Responses Summary
  • Phone Interview Response Summary

Figure References

Figure Source
Smart Circle. (September 11, 2015). The rise of the Microtransit movement. Retrieved from