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Saskatoon Transit launches OnDemand Transit, increasing ridership with a comprehensive “stop-to-hub” model.

On August 2nd, Saskatoon Transit launched a new version of its on-demand service, OnDemand Transit (ODT), transporting riders from designated stops to the nearest transit hub and vice-versa to service a greater number of riders.

Jenna Dhanani

Saskatoon Transit’s previous on demand service used to function on an “any stop-to-any stop” model, which meant providing coverage to as many stops as possible and not requiring transfer fees. This meant that the agency was servicing hundreds of stops; this model was not scalable with limited vehicles and the large service area, which encompassed the majority of the city.

With the re-launch of ODT in partnership with Spare, Saskatoon Transit has switched to a “stop-to-hub” model. This means that though less stops will be serviced, customers within the service area will have better access to transportation and overall be better served. Buses will prioritize vehicle capacity based on specific neighborhoods, ensuring that riders in these areas get access to and can rely on the transportation they need. The Interim Director of Saskatoon Transit, Tracey Davis, shared, “We want to provide people with as much flexibility as possible - especially in developing neighbourhoods where full public transit options don’t yet exist. Our OnDemand Transit service is just the thing to meet this challenge head on.”

ODT operates from specified stops in Brighton, Rosewood, North Kensington and Blairmore and drops riders off at the corresponding hubs based on the departure stop. These hubs refer to destinations or may also serve as a point to transfer to the fixed route service. The ODT service operates Monday to Friday, with the first pickup occurring at 6 a.m. and the final pickup for the day taking place at 6 p.m.

Customers book trips in real time using the OnDemand Transit app, online or by calling in. The app is integrated with the Spare Rider platform in partnership with Transit and provides accessibility options; for instance, riders may add that they require a wheelchair or bike option and the app will find them the optimal ride for their needs.

For riders, having everything in one place on the OnDemand Transit app enables them to see how the on-demand part of their journey fits into the fixed route with a complete trip plan. Having hubs rather than stops is also in the best interest of riders as trips will become more reliable, efficient and quicker since buses will focus on specific areas.

It is anticipated that this switch to a “stop-to-hub” model will improve rider experience thereby increasing boardings of Saskatoon Transit’s ODT.