TOD is a form of transportation gaining in popularity due to its flexibility in terms of schedules and itineraries, according to passenger demand. It also provides access to a specific fare or a fare combined with the city’s network to which it is attached. Now that the concept is defined, let’s dive into it! What generated enthusiasm in Quebec for this concept?
The answer is quite simple: our government. As part of the implementation of the 2030 Plan for a Green Economy, as well as the 2030 Sustainable Mobility Policy, the government says it wants to change the modes of transportation offered to citizens. This would allow the government to support the development of shared mobility, and thus supporting the transition to a more accessible sustainable mobility, adapted to everyone’s needs.
To support the implementation of this new type of mobility throughout the province, the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec (MTQ) recently opened a new financial aid program for new mobilities (NOMO) which will be renewed annually until 2025.
To inspire many, this second article on TOD will outline existing TOD initiatives in Quebec. It will provide information about the best practices of two of them and will identify the desirability parameters related to the advantages of TOD. It will also set out the challenges for municipalities in implementing TOD. This will help identify avenues of collaboration with the Fabrique des Mobilités Québec, to stimulate the ecosystem in the creation of eligible projects in order to benefit from the NOMO program.
Inventory of existing initiatives
Several TOD projects are already in place across the province. Just type the words “Transportation on Demand Quebec” in a search engine to find a list of projects in progress. Here is a non-exhaustive list that will give you an idea of the extent of this new mobility trend:
RTL — Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Longueuil / Boucherville : RTL à la demande
The Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), in partnership with Via, is offering an on-demand cab service. It allows users to get to a connection point with public transportation from certain neighbourhoods. All for the price of a bus ride. At the moment, a defined territory in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville is served, as well as in Longueuil and Boucherville. The RTL on-demand app lets you book a collective cab in real-time. It offers several route options, affiliated with the RTL, for trips within predetermined sectors at the price of a regular RTL trip.
RTC — Quebec : On-demand transportation – Flexibus
In March 2022, the Réseau de transport de la Capitale (RTC) deployed the on-demand transportation service Flexibus which will serve eight targeted zones every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., in order to meet local travel needs. Booking is done through the Flexibus app, their website or their customer service. The service also stands out with its price equivalent to a bus trip, including the connection. The RTC advocates proximity, flexibility and frequency of this service to provide users with freedom of choice.
STO — Gatineau : STO on-demand
For the second year in a row, the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) is also offering its on-demand transportation service as a complementary service in the Buckingham and Masson-Angers sectors. Thanks to the STO’s on-demand app, it is possible to reserve a trip in advance or within a 20-minute delay on a street corner in the sectors served, in addition to being offered at the same fare as the regular network. It is also possible to go through the Transit planner to be presented with the STO on-demand offer as a travel alternative.
Taxibus — Victoriaville : TaxiBus
Taxibus is an on-demand cab network deployed in Victoriaville with more than 800 points of service. A total of 30 vehicles, 50% of which are hybrids, serve users on flexible trips adapted to their needs, 7 days a week. The cost of a membership card is $5.
The last two projects will be further analyzed, by describing the practices implemented in their development, in addition to examining their strategic deployment objectives. This information is well known to the Fabrique des Mobilités Québec, thanks to our collaboration in the implementation and examination of the experimentations surrounding these initiatives.
Exo – Beloeil/McMasterville and Terrebonne : Exo à la demande
In the case of Exo’s project, we can say they are pioneers in the implementation of a pilot project of transportation on demand. Through their deployment in the cities of Beloeil/McMasterville and Terrebonne, Exo claims to offer public transportation that is local, efficient, flexible and easy to use. In Beloeil/McMasterville, since May 31st, 2021, the Link application, an Exo partner, enables users to reserve transportation on demand between 15 minutes and 7 days in advance. Exo has also partnered with cab dispatcher Taxelco to serve more remote areas with this innovative service.
As for Terrebonne’s pilot project, since July 19, 2022, the city’s public transit users can access the on-demand transportation service to travel within their municipality by accessing the Exo on-demand app. Rides can be booked in real-time, with an average wait time of 8 to 15 minutes. This service is available Monday through Friday for citizens.
Exo has played an important role in public transportation in and around the Greater Montreal area since 2017. The company is well positioned to promote the integration of new mobility modes such as on-demand transportation. For example, with the pilot projects underway, we can measure the impact of new offers to users toward more sustainable public transit.
The implementation of a pilot project is, of course, a great first step. However, it is important to ensure it remains in line with the organization’s strategic objectives and that it meets the key results indicators established. This is exactly how the Fabrique des Mobilités Québec has supported Exo’s pilot projects, by collaborating on the experimentation and hypothesis validation strategy.
Here is the list of objectives established during the collaborative work:
- Deploy new mobility services for users
- Reach new customers
- Reduce the carbon footprint of its services
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Ensure the identification of a viable business model
While these objectives are essential to maintain a vision of the evolution of the service, it is relevant to ensure there is a strategy to measure the benefits to users and operators, to ensure the continuity of this new business unit for EXO.
TaCL — Taxibus on demand (in progress)
The Taxibus service, offered by Transport adapté et collectif des Laurentides (TACL), provides users with public transportation by reservation, 7 days a week. This service enables cities in the Laurentides to be connected, with fixed itineraries and locations, at a cost of $6 to be paid in the taxibus, which does not make it transportation on demand. Reservations for transportation must be made by phone one day in advance, or up to 2 hours before the trip, depending on the vehicles’ availability. TaCL has also launched a request for proposals to improve and modernize its service with partners, and will then launch a pilot project for on-demand transportation for citizens of this region.
The Fabrique des Mobilités Québec collaborates with the TACL in defining the request for proposals, as well as setting the objectives of the experimentation and the pilot projects’ key results indicators, both in terms of benefits and user satisfaction.
Here is an overview of the objectives that have been established at the heart of the TACL initiative:
- Enable better transportation planning for users
- More detailed and real-time information on TOD
- Ease of use of the service
- Intuitive comparison between TOD and other modes of transportation
- Introduce new payment options
- Digitize the TAD service
The expected benefits of the TACL service enhancement are yet to be defined.
The next section of this article will go into detail about the desirability parameters of users and operators in the implementation of on-demand transportation service. We will try to identify the key factors that define the success or failure of these experiments. The objective is to identify which parameters need to be measured to ensure both internal and external added value, in addition to grasping the right performance, satisfaction and profit capture indicators.
Desirability is one of the foundations, along with feasibility and viability, of agile product and service development, which is promoted by the Fabrique des Mobilités Québec.
It is essential to define desirability hypotheses and then validate them in the field, with data from test users, and to iterate until there is proof of added value. In the case of our experimentation with the implementation of new on-demand transport service in targeted regions, it is important to take into account external desirability, e.g. users, and internal desirability, e.g. the organization that operates and offers this new service.
Here are some examples of validated, or under validation, desirability assumptions, summarized in some concepts and benefits for users and operators.
- More complete and adapted schedules
- Customized itineraries
- Reduced travel time
- Simplified planning
- Real-time visualization, therefore confidence in the service
- New payment methods available
- Reduction of individual environmental footprint
- Viable business model
- Generation of monetary benefits
- Digitize internal processes
- Offer more services with the same number of resources
- Make service more reliable
- Increasing reliability of transportation
- Expanded service offerings
- Broader range of transit offerings, which will attract new customers
- Expanded service hours
- Provide service to areas underserved by traditional public transit
- Substitution of fixed bus lines
- Reduced operating costs
All of these benefits are success factors, which must be validated in experiments, in order to assert the necessity of permanently implementing transportation on demand.
This is where the NOMO financial aid program comes in handy. There are still many issues and uncertainties surrounding the official large-scale implementation of on-demand transportation in the public transit system. It is therefore necessary for organizations to join forces to validate the assumptions made with data generated through pilot projects in different contexts to find a viable, replicable model that adds value for users and operators.
The Fabrique des Mobilités Québec can help you!
You are a company eligible for the NOMO financial aid program? We can support you in the preliminary study of your on-demand transport implementation projects! Together, we can determine the strategic objectives of experimentation and the methods for validating hypotheses, in addition to helping you with the implementation of pilot and learning projects. All of this, by supporting you in the identification of analysis criteria for technology selection, and by implementing the key outcome metrics required for successful on-demand transportation implementation tests. We will also work with you to identify a suitable business model for the operation of this new mode of public transportation, in terms of pricing, change management, use of generated data, and capitalization of the leverage effect that the adoption of this new service would generate.
In short, the Fabrique des Mobilités Québec wants to put forward the creation of communities of interest around new transport modes such as on-demand transportation. Structuring experimentation projects, as described in this article, is our real expertise, by using public data, in order to create knowledge and technology commons for a perennial transition of the mobility sector towards sustainable mobility! The next steps of the Fabrique des Mobilités Québec, in this perspective, will be to communicate with on-demand transportation operators of municipalities. It will also open a dialogue with municipal decision-makers to advance the subject and identify relevant use cases that would qualify for the MTQ call for projects. This will allow the start of feasibility studies to mitigate the risk and take advantage of the added value opportunities that on-demand transportation can bring.
If you are interested, please contact us directly at email@example.com
Stay tuned for our upcoming TOD communications to make sure you take advantage of opportunities to create a community synergy of ideas for the growth of new transport modes, such as transportation on demand.
Article written by Jeremy Laplante