Mayor John Henderson has been in talks for some time with Port Hope’s Mayor Bob Sanderson and Hamilton Mayor Bill Cane about an integrated Transit system covering all three Towns. Currently Cobourg operates two systems – regular transit operating two one hour loops and a “Wheels” on-demand service with smaller buses providing service for residents who cannot use regular buses. Instead of that, Judy Smith proposes using much smaller fully accessible buses to provide on-demand door to door service for everyone. All rides would be booked and paid for using an app and the usual wait would be no more than half an hour. Judy is the Climate Change Coordinator for the Town of Cobourg and Environmental Officer for the County of Northumberland. She reminded Council of this idea at a presentation to Council today, August 31, because Cobourg is currently considering replacing the old full-size buses they have.
This kind of service is currently operational in Okotoks Alberta and appears to be successful. Judy said that Belleville is considering such a system. The special buses are based on a Dodge RAM and cost $167K each. The required software is about $250K. Judy did not have any indication of operating costs but fuel would be less since buses are smaller – and there is a hybrid version available for even greater savings and environmental benefit.
The system works best in smaller communities – Okotoks has a population of 29,000. The size would govern the number of buses needed.
Judy is working on a Climate Action Plan that would include this idea – she expects to present it to Council shortly.
Okotoks has posted a video on You-Tube describing their system.
Although they seemed impressed with the idea (dubbed MicroTransit), Council made no decision or recommendation on Judy’s proposal. Judy was prompted to bring this forward since last week at the Committee of the Whole meeting, Council approved applying for a Provincial grant to buy new buses. Although it was not discussed, it may be possible for this money to be used to implement this innovative idea.