Flexibility in a pandemic: Best practices for demand-responsive transit in Canada

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Demand-responsive transit, where vehicles, routes, and stop locations adapt in near-real time to customer requests, has gained new popularity in an app-enabled world. Transit agencies are considering this type of transit as a cost-effective way to serve areas with low population densities and diverse travel patterns, in some cases more efficiently than traditional fixed-route buses. In Canada, information on existing systems’ challenges and successes can be difficult to find.

University of Toronto Postdoctoral fellow Willem Klumpenhouwer and UTTRI associated faculty Professor Amer Shalaby have partnered with the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and Mitacs to research this area.

Through an interview-based survey and review of technical documentation, they are creating a synthesis of best practices for demand-responsive transit in Canada.

As part of that work, they will be discussing agencies’ and vendors’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • how they have adapted or leveraged the demand-responsive transit technologies available to manage physical distancing measures, as well as
  • whether and how they have implemented demand-responsive transit in larger areas in response to decreased demand.

This research may help inform current and future demand-responsive transit projects about operating under these circumstances.