In June 2021, the City of Dieppe in New Brunswick, Canada partnered with Blaise to introduce on-demand transit, the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. The City had formerly operated a fixed route bus network in its municipality, but rising expectations of newly elected officials, as well as a sharp decline in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted the City to look for new and innovative ways to improve transit service.
In an effort to provide greater frequency, greater service coverage, and greater overall value to its residents, the City of Dieppe planned to replace all fixed bus routes on weekends with on-demand transit, utilizing the existing fleet of vehicles and stop network.
The on-demand service entered Phase 2 and expanded to include weekday evenings in November 2021. Using data-drive insights from Blaise, the City discovered that they could operate the service with smaller vehicles. As a result, they purchased a minibus and formed a partnership with a local taxi company. The service is now run with two taxi vans and one minibus, saving them thousands of dollars in fuel and driver costs each year.
With the help of Blaise, the City of Dieppe is leveraging the power of on-demand transit software to improve the rider experience, expand service coverage, eliminate transfers and offer direct access to destinations, reduce travel time, and increase the frequency and reliability of the transit service. The City launched its free on-demand transit service in June 2021, initially replacing all 3 fixed bus routes on weekends.
Operating under a stop-to-stop model, riders can request a trip using the Blaise Transit mobile or web app, or by calling into the call center, and the algorithm will provide passengers with the optimal pick-up and drop-off stop. Stop selection is optimized in real-time based on incoming requests to increase the efficiency of the service. Drivers are also equipped with the Blaise Drive app, which guides them along routes assigned to them. On the back end, admins and dispatchers have access to the Blaise Engine web portal which allows them to manage all aspects of the service and accept trip requests by phone. A data analytics portal allows the City to continuously enhance the service.
“Our partnership with Blaise Transit and the use of its technology has offered many benefits including important data collection which is essential in the development and improvement of our network. With this key information, we are able to adapt our level of service to better meet the ongoing and changing needs of our clients. The transition of certain number of fixed routes to flexible routes has allowed us to expand our service area and eliminate transfers, therefore, more direct routes to destinations. We are currently exploring the potential integration of the technology to our Adapted Service in the near future.”
– Luc Richard, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer - Operations and Community Living Division
Phase 1 (June 2021 – October 2021)
The City of Dieppe was able to achieve their goal and increased service coverage by 82% through adding virtual stops to the existing stop network. This essentially brought transit to areas in the city that were previously not served by the old, fixed route. By the end of Phase 1, ridership on the on-demand service had rocketed by 130% since the service initially launched.
Phase 2 (November 2021 – present)
A passenger survey launched in October 2021 had shown that approximately 25% of the survey respondents also wanted access to the on-demand transit service during weekday evenings. The City of Dieppe subsequently replaced two fixed bus routes with on-demand transit on weekday evenings and reduced the vehicle fleet from two forty-foot buses to one minibus. Operational costs reduced on average by 29% in Phase 2 and the city was able to extend service hours from 9:30 PM to 10:00 PM all while using the same resources.
Not only was the City able to benefit from the efficiencies of on-demand transit, riders also greatly benefitted as well and were very satisfied. In Phase 1, the average passenger rating was 4.5 stars. By Phase 2, this jumped to 4.9 stars.
Passenger rating: 4.9
Average number of trips per passenger: 14