Durham Region Transit (DRT), which includes the communities east of Toronto like Ajax, Oshawa and Pickering, has partnered with Spare to launch an extensive on-demand microtransit service. It promises to increase transit access and improve travel times for more than 600,000 residents.
Spare, a Canadian-based on-demand transit software provider, lets transit riders request public transportation straight to their door or a convenient stop from their smartphone. Its algorithm optimizes all trip requests in real-time to create cost and time-efficient routing of small-scale vehicles such as mini buses, shuttles and cars.
Service area DRT On Demand
DRT’s microtransit project encompasses over 30 on-demand transit zones spread over 2500 square kilometers, including urban and more rural areas. When residents and commuters in these zones require transit, they simply need to fire-up Spare’s white-label DRT app or the Transit app and input their desired pick-up location/destination. Travel can be reserved anywhere from days to 15-minutes before desired pick-up time.
This launch marks the first time Spare is working with Transit App. The multi-modal app allows users to plan their transit trips and in some cases pay for them all in-app. For instance, a DRT passenger can use Transit to evaluate what their trip might look like if they start with microtransit, connect to a GO Train commuter line and take a bus to get to their final destination in the city. Thanks to Spare’s open API, the microtransit portion is even bookable through Transit’s interface making for a seamless experience.
Transit App’s microtransit integration
“This is a really exciting launch for Spare. It’s one of our biggest in terms of area, fleet-size and type, and number of service zones.The integration with Transit is really in line with our worldview about the importance of open transit technology platforms and multi-modal capabilities,” says Kristoffer Vik Hansen, Spare’s CEO.
Prior to the COVID-19, DRT was looking to replace some of its fixed-route bus lines with microtransit. With the decline in transit ridership and subsequently revenue due to the pandemic, it fast-tracked the process, opting to focus on core fixed-route lines and microtransit to feed them.
[Service vehicle Durham Region Transit]
Service vehicle Durham Region Transit
On top of offering four dedicated vehicles for the on-demand service (vehicles owned and operated by DRT), the agency is also using Spare’s capabilities to broker trips to local taxi companies where it anticipates a bump in ridership.
Brokering allows DRT to better manage demand fluctuations on the all-day service, which runs from 5:30 am until midnight. When activated, trip brokering works like any other trip request in Spare. The system evaluates the demand and determines whether it is more cost and time efficient to dispatch a taxi versus one of the agency’s minibuses.