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Transcollines to offer on-demand transit in the Pontiac

by Sophie Kuijper Dickson
Pontiac
Apr. 8, 2024
Pontiac residents looking to get around without using their own cars may soon have expanded public transit options at their fingertips.
Transcollines, the organization that runs the route 910 bus line from Allumette Island to Gatineau and back every day, making several stops in the Pontiac along the way, has plans to add on-demand transit services to the mix.
The new service will make it possible for residents to schedule a pickup with a designated bus that will take them to their destination, at their convenience.
“It’s going to be much more effective if you can yourself decide what time you need to travel instead of us forcing you to take the bus at a precise hour,” said Transcollines communications manager Chantal Mainville.
Currently the sole 910 bus line in the region makes one trip into the city in the morning, leaving Allumette Island at 5:15 a.m., and makes one trip back out in the evening, leaving Gatineau at 4:30 p.m.
Transcollines plans to transform the segment of the regular 910 bus line between Allumette Island and Campbell’s Bay into an on-demand service, meaning pick-up will be available if you schedule it.
The regular fixed bus schedule will resume from Campbell’s Bay to Gatineau.
At the same time, a second transit bus will be introduced for on-demand rides anywhere in the Pontiac region between 5 and 9 a.m., and 3:30 and 8:30 p.m.
The new transit options will become available as soon as Transcollines can secure a second bus for the on-demand services, which could be this spring.
“We’re really pushing to be able to launch this thing in the next few months, because the Pontiac has been waiting for a while now,” Mainville said.
Successful pilot in des Collines
The on-demand model is one that Transcollines has been piloting in MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais in partnership with local taxi service Taxi Loyal since the fall of 2022.
In this model, public transit users book a ride through an app, at least two hours ahead of time. A taxi comes to pick them up at a designated stop, and delivers them to a stop nearest to their destination.
Sometimes the car may have two or three other people in it, and sometimes the rider may be alone.
Either way, it is more economical and climate friendly than having a full bus drive a fixed bus route if it is not always full.
“It’s more efficient to have the small cars instead of having bus lines everywhere on the territory,” explained Francis Beausoleil, who is both the chair of the transit organization’s board of directors and the councilor for the La Pêche ward of Masham.
He explained that in MRC des Collines, the transit service maintained the bus lines that were well used – those that carried public servants into the city and back out again – but replaced the less used lines with the on-demand service.
“We saw the difference that on-demand transport made in MRC des Collines,” Beausoleil said, noting that in his own ward, seniors began using the service to get to the grocery store in Farm Point because there was none in Masham.
“So we could see the same thing here that people from Campbell’s Bay could take the on-demand transport to the Giant Tiger in Shawville or the Metro in Fort Coulonge. This is a good thing for the seniors and of course a good thing for students that need to go to the CEGEP, or attend activities at high schools after class.”
Figuring out what’s needed
Beausoleil, who is also the communications advisor for MRC Pontiac and so familiar with the region, says transferring this model to the Pontiac territory would involve addressing a new set of challenges.
He said unlike in des Collines, where large numbers of people are travelling into the city every morning and back out in the evening, people move differently across the Pontiac territory.
“It’s one thing to go to the city but if you want to stay within the MRC, you’re not going to want to wait six to seven hours to catch the bus to bring you back home,” Beausoleil said.
“Here in the Pontiac there might be some people from Luskville that work at the Shawville hospital, or people from Shawville that work in Campbell’s Bay.”
Mainville said that this first phase of expanded public transit services will be used to develop a more detailed portrait of how people actually travel in the region, and that additional fixed bus lines might be added down the road if the on-demand service demonstrates there to be a need.
“Eventually we would like to bring smaller vehicles to be able to go in the villages, but that would be phase two because there’s more work to do there for the supply,” she added, referring to the lack of taxi services in the region.
Mainville said the MRC Pontiac had already contributed its annual share of $162,660 for this service, and the Municipality of Pontiac $81,330.

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