Denley: Transit-on-demand model might solve some problems for Ottawa's rural areas

By Randall Denley, Ottawa Citizen, April 9, 2019

Ottawa is spending more than $4.6 billion to build light rail in urban and suburban parts of the city, but people in the city’s vast rural areas get little or no service. Up to a point, that’s reasonable. There just aren’t enough potential riders for the city to send big buses into rural areas, or even to provide more than token service to major villages.

But what if there were a creative way to meet the demand that exists, without huge expenditures from the city? As it turns out, at least two municipalities in Ontario are taking a creative, cost-effective approach to delivering transit to dispersed rural populations.

The village of Carp is one of Ottawa’s transit-starved rural areas. Residents get Para Transpo service and a shopping bus once a week. When the city sorted out rural transit demands after amalgamation, that was thought to be all that Carp required. Since then, the village has grown and the population mix has changed. Lack of transit is a common local complaint. There is also demand for transit service from businesses in the Carp Road corridor, which runs from Highway 417 most of the way to Carp. There are more than 300 businesses there, employing about 4,000 people, but their workers have no transit connection.

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