NRT and Via launch first on-demand public transit system in Canadian Niagara Region

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

Image credit: Via

Niagara Region Transit and Via, the leader in public mobility solutions, will launch a new on-demand transit service in West Niagara on 17 August.

They say “NRT OnDemand” will provide residents with an affordable, efficient and convenient public transit option in Grimsby, Lincoln, West Lincoln, Wainfleet and Pelham.

NRT OnDemand is seen as a dynamic shared transit solution for residents in the predominantly rural areas of West Niagara. The service will be the first form of public transit in much of the region, and will provide connections to the transit hubs at the St. Catharines Bus Terminal, Welland Bus Terminal, and Port Colborne City Hall.

Riders in Grimsby, Lincoln and Pelham, will be able to book a shared ride for local trips within their municipality as well as inter-municipal trips. Riders in Wainfleet and West Lincoln, will be able to book a shared ride for inter-municipal trips, but not within their individual municipality. Connections to-or-from nearby transit hubs will be available to facilitate access to fixed line transit options with the touch of a button.

NRT OnDemand creates a seamless transit solution for West Niagara and firmly establishes an exceptional partnership between the Region and local municipalities to deliver West Niagara residents with innovative and cost-effective transit solutions that meets their individual needs, replacing local fixed-route service with a dynamic on- demand solution.

“NRT OnDemand represents an opportunity for technology and public transit to work together to expand access to efficient, convenient and affordable mobility solutions without the need for a private vehicle,” said Via CEO and co-founder Daniel Ramot. “We are proud to work with Niagara Region Transit to demonstrate how flexible, digital solutions can create and extend public transit infrastructure to support rural communities in a new way.”

Using the NRT OnDemand mobile app, or by calling a phone number for riders without access to a smartphone, passengers will select a pickup and drop-off location within the service zone and confirm their ride.

Once a ride is booked, Via’s technology matches multiple passengers headed in the same direction into one of 10 high-capacity vehicles, and directs passengers to a nearby corner, or “virtual bus stop”. Via’s technology routes vehicles in real-time, minimizing detours by using virtual bus stops to reduce congestion and emissions, while providing a highly-efficient rider experience.

In line with Public Health guidelines at launch, riders are required to wear masks, and will be separated from drivers with a partition. In addition, the vehicles will be cleaned thoroughly and frequently.

“With the launch of NRT OnDemand, all of Niagara’s municipalities will now be connected through public transit. This dynamic, new service will allow all residents of West Niagara to have the freedom to go where they want, when they want using transit. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when we work together with our local partners. The seamless connectivity provided by NRT OnDemand certainly demonstrates the potential for future aligned, unified transit solutions for all of Niagara,” says Regional Chair Jim Bradley.

NRT OnDemand service is available Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 10 pm, and will include both wheelchair-accessible vehicles and vehicles equipped with bicycle racks. The fare for Inter-municipal trips, including connections to St. Catharines, Welland, and Port Colborne is $6. The intra-municipal fares for riders in Grimsby, Lincoln and Pelham is $3.

The service is Via’s second in Canada, including its on-demand service in Sault Ste. Marie. Via has been tapped by cities and transportation operators around the world to help re-engineer public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic network. Via now has more than 100 launched partnerships in more than 20 countries.