November 1, 2021 (Niagara, Canada) — Effective today, Niagara Region and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake are pleased to announce that NRT OnDemand will now serve the entire town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, after previously only serving a designated area. The expansion will allow more riders to have access to efficient, affordable and convenient on-demand public transportation when traveling in the area. To ensure coverage of the entire municipality, two additional vehicles have been added to the fleet, bringing the total vehicle count to four.
NRT OnDemand launched in Niagara-on-the-Lake in November 2020 to provide shared transit for residents in more rural areas of West Niagara. The service originally included two vehicles providing trips along Regional Rd. 55 (Niagara Stone Rd.), including the areas of Old Town, Virgil and Glendale.
NRT OnDemand ridership has steadily increased, especially when Ontario moved through the various COVID-19 reopening stages. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, riders have taken nearly 2,500 rides on NRT OnDemand since the service began, with ridership averaging just under 500 rides per month from July to September 2021. This is more than a 1300 per cent increase since the service launched.
In addition to the Niagara-on-the-Lake expansion, further enhancements have also been made to improve the rider experience across all of the NRT OnDemand service areas. All riders now have the option to pre-book trips up to 10 p.m. the night before their desired ride. This feature is available by using the NRT OnDemand Mobile app, and those without access to a smartphone can call 289-302-2172 to pre-book a ride. Riders are also now able to select whether they would like a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), or a vehicle with a bike rack.
The adult fare for trips within Niagara-on-the-Lake is $3. However, riders will be able to connect to Niagara Region Transit conventional service at the transit hub located at the Outlet Collection at Niagara, or the Glendale Campus of Niagara College for a $6 fare, which includes both the local fare and the transfer.
NRT OnDemand also services the West Niagara communities of Grimsby, Lincoln, Pelham, Wainfleet and West Lincoln. There have been more than 38,000 rides on NRT OnDemand across all zones since the launch in August 2020, getting people to their destinations and connecting them to the rest of the public transit network in Niagara at hubs in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, St. Catharines and Welland. Over the past year, the service has seen a 122 per cent increase in monthly rides across all zones.
NRT OnDemand will continue to be powered by Via, the global leader in TransitTech. Via’s software enables travellers to book their rides (on-demand or in advance) and uses intelligent algorithms to direct riders to a “virtual bus stop” within a short walking distance — allowing for quick and efficient shared trips that provide more flexibility than traditional transport options with fixed routes and schedules. Niagara Region was one of the first communities in Canada to collaborate with Via for an on-demand transportation service. The fleet’s vehicles are mini-vans, which offer comfortable seating for up to five passengers. All COVID-19 protocols are in place for the health and safety of passengers and operators.
"With this expansion of on demand service in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we are taking yet another progressive step to ensure all corners of the region are connected by affordable, reliable public transit. As residents in Niagara-on-the-Lake start booking trips today, I am encouraged to see the continued cooperation of Niagara’s municipalities in the service of those who rely on public transit – this expansion is yet another example of how well a fully realized regional transit system will operate in the future."
~ Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley
"Via is proud to be able to serve more individuals in the Niagara region and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Access to efficient and affordable public transportation helps connect residents and visitors with both essential and leisure opportunities including jobs, healthcare, and social activities."
~ Dillon Twombly, Chief Revenue Officer, Via
"Transit is a much-needed, essential service, and I am so pleased to see this service now available for all of our residents,” stated Lord Mayor Disero. “I am glad to see residents have made use of this service over its pilot year, and I look forward to seeing how this improved coverage and availability will result in increased service use in the days and months to come. Thank you to Town and Regional Staff for working so hard to support public transit options for our residents."
~ Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor Betty Disero