The town councils of Grimsby and Lincoln and Pelham have upgraded participation in the NRT OnDemand Pilot Project, a Niagara Region transit service where residents can book a shared van trip using an app on their phone within and between Niagara municipalities.
The project provides riders access to seven to 10 Toyota Sienna ride-share vans driven by professionally trained drivers, hired by Niagara Region. The vans can seat up to seven people. Three vans are wheelchair-accessible.
Passengers can book a trip using a smartphone in as little as 15 minutes in advance. Wait times for pickup are expected to be an average of 30 to 60 minutes.
Grimsby, Lincoln and Pelham’s upgraded participation allows their residents to travel within their towns using the service, and not just between municipalities. Inter-municipal trips are only available to residents of Wainfleet and West Lincoln.
The project allows inter-municipal transit service throughout Grimsby, Lincoln, West Lincoln, Pelham, and Wainfleet. It will also provide connections to the region’s major transit hubs, including the St. Catharines and Welland bus terminals and Port Colborne’s City Hall.
“You can get a ride door to door or connect to other regional transit services,” said Grimsby Ward 4 councilor Dave Sharpe. “Hopefully, eventually it will also include a connection to Hamilton and their transit services,” he explained.
The program includes the possibility of further expansion to Hamilton with a drop off at Winona Crossing Shopping Centre.
Ride fees are $3 for local travel in a passenger’s municipality and $6 between Niagara municipalities. Payment can be made by credit card or pre-paid debit in the app or over the phone. Pre-purchased tickets will also be available.
Sharpe said Grimsby council has committed $250,000 annually to the project with $80,000 spent so far this year.
Grimsby’s decision to joining neighbouring municipalities of Pelham and Lincoln in the project was made at a Grimsby Town Council meeting on July 20, after a discussion on the logistics of the app and the involvement of the town and residents in its deployment.
At the meeting, Councilor Dorothy Bothwell of Ward 4 expressed concern over the minimal communication received since it was introduced to the project in December.
“I really hope for August 17th, we can hear a whole lot more about how this is going to impact our community and what it means,” she said, adding she hopes that her questions will be answered as the town receives more information in the upcoming weeks.
With those concerns aside, Bothwell expressed her excitement for the project. “It’s great. I think it’s exciting, but I really think if we’re going to do it right, we have to communicate this well and leaving it till the last minute. It’s not a good thing,” she said.
Riders can use the service starting August 17. The service will operate between 7am and 10pm seven days per week.