TTC studies ride-sharing companies for hard to serve areas
The report finds private “microtransit” companies are able to serve “niche populations” more effectively than a large-scale public transit operator.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
The TTC is thinking about getting into the ride-sharing business.
A report going before the transit commission’s board next Wednesday recommends that the agency look into launching a pilot project of an “on-demand ride-sharing service concept” as a potential complement to the public transit system.
The report asserts that private “microtransit” companies are able to serve “niche populations” more effectively than a large-scale public transit operator, and could be used to connect people in “hard-to-serve” areas to the TTC.
“In low demand areas, such as industrial employment areas with shift workers, it is sometimes not cost-effective for mass transit to serve this demand,” the report states.
“Microtransit services would be able to serve these areas much more efficiently. This would expand transportation options for these low density areas.”
Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who moved a motion at a January mneeting of the TTC board asking for the report, said “people are becoming open to new ways of mobility” and are increasingly less concerned about whether transit is provided by a government agency than they are about “getting from Point A to Point B.”
He said an on-demand microtransit agency that uses larger vehicles like vans might be able to serve low-density neighbourhoods better than the TTC, particularly during off-peak hours.
“There are all sorts of bus routes around the city where we get very few riders, who need to get home after work. Could a ride-sharing platform provide a more efficient and cheaper model than our existing model?”
In addition to recommending a study of a pilot project, the report weighs how the TTC could be affected by ride-sharing services, which city council legalized in May after a protracted and contentious debate, and despite fierce pushback from the taxi industry.
Potential benefits include carrying people for the “first mile” and “last mile” of their transit trips, encouraging a shift away from private automobile use, and increasing safety for passengers uncomfortable with walking long distances to and from a transit stop.
But while the report states that “increasing mobility options in Toronto is, overall, a good thing,” there are also downsides. The report notes that wide-scale use of ride-sharing vehicles could increase traffic congestion, which would slow down TTC bus and streetcar routes, especially downtown.
There is also the potential that ride-sharing services would siphon riders and revenue away from the TTC. The transit agency is already suffering from lower-than-expected ridership, with staff predicting 540 million customers this year. That is only 2 million more riders than last year, and 13 million fewer than the TTC budgeted for.
Despite concerns raised by some members of the TTC board, transit agency spokesman Brad Ross said it’s “too early to say” whether services like Uber have had a negative effect on public transit ridership.
Ross said that if the agency does partner with a ride-sharing company on a pilot project, it will ensure that “whatever we’re doing is complementary, certainly with public transit.”
Humans of Toronto
Humans of Toronto