Revolutionizing Rural Transportation: PR Transpo Increases Ridership 15x with On-Demand Service


PR Transpo


United Counties of Prescott and Russell




June 2021




Improve transit service and reduce operating costs


PR Transpo is a public transit agency that plays a significant role in providing transportation services to the residents of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell. The region is spread across a large geographic area, covering more than 2,000 square kilometres, with an uneven population distribution and a low population density. As such, providing efficient and cost-effective public transportation in such an area can be a daunting task.

PR Transpo introduced its inaugural fixed-transit service in October 2019, marking a significant milestone in their operations. This service comprised a total of twelve routes that operated on varying days, catering to the transportation needs of the region's residents. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 prompted the temporary suspension of this service. Prior to the implementation of the transit service and during the suspension brought about by the pandemic, able-bodied individuals without access to a private vehicle were left with no viable alternative for transportation other than resorting to costly taxi services. Even as the fixed transit service resumed in September 2020, the vastness of the region and the low population density meant that the fixed routes were often costly to maintain, especially when considering the limited fleet of only two minibuses and the vehicle mileage needed to cover the extensive coverage area.

PR Transpo began exploring different options to improve its services while potentially reducing costs. One such approach was to introduce an on-demand transit service, which would allow residents to book a bus to pick them up and drop them off at their preferred locations.  

Blaise on-demand implementation  

PR Transpo underwent a significant transformation by replacing its entire fixed bus line transit network, which included 12 fixed bus lines, with an innovative on-demand transit service powered by Blaise technology.  

Diverse options were extended to riders for booking their trips, rendering the process remarkably user-friendly. Whether through the Blaise Transit mobile and web applications or by engaging with a live agent via the Blaise Engine through a phone call, passengers gained control over their travel arrangements, even while on the move. Concurrently, drivers embraced the Blaise Drive operator app, which furnished them with detailed turn-by-turn directions and real-time updates on trips, facilitating efficient navigation and faster passenger pickup.

Harnessing the insights harvested from the Blaise platform's data and analytics, PR Transpo continuously refined its on-demand service. The new service was crafted to accommodate the requirements of passengers across diverse locales and to adapt to the realities of the area. From offering door-to-door service in rural zones, to stop-to-stop convenience in urban centers, and even door-to-stop transitions for riders journeying between rural and urban domains, this model ensured efficiency and personalized service to passengers.

Beyond its efficiency gains, PR Transpo introduced a dynamic pricing model that flexed according to travel distance and passenger category, encompassing adults, students, and seniors. This novel approach guaranteed that passengers paid only for the distance they traversed, rendering the service economically viable and universally accessible.

PR Transpo took a progressive step by exclusively adopting contactless payment methods, making them one of the first agencies in North America to completely eliminate on-board payments. The contactless payment options facilitated by the Blaise platform, included credit and debit cards, as well as PR-issued tickets.  

In essence, PR Transpo's radical shift to an on-demand system propelled by Blaise technology has not only elevated its operational efficiency but has also bestowed passengers with a tailored and convenient travel experience.

Results and Outcome

As a rural transit service, the project yielded exceptionally positive results, surpassing expectations in a number of key areas:

User experience: The service received an average passenger rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, indicating satisfaction among rural commuters.

Ridership growth: The monthly ridership experienced an unprecedented increase, soaring on average by 15x compared to the previous fixed route system. Specifically, average ridership on the fixed route service was only 43 per month, while the on-demand service experienced an average of 317 rides per month, hitting a peak of 705 rides in November 2022. This represents a significant improvement in transit accessibility and convenience for the rural population. Furthermore, throughout the duration of the on-demand service, average monthly ridership growth was by 30%, indicating a sustained demand for the service.

On-time performance: The service also boasted punctuality, with a vehicle on-time performance rate of 92%, and an average waiting time of less than 1 minute for pick-up, crucial for individuals living in areas with limited transportation options.


  • PR Transpo transferred their existing fleet from the fixed lines onto the on-demand service which limited the service level in such a large operating area, especially for last-minute bookings.  
  • PR Transpo used to handle passenger support and booking calls in-house and due to a an aging and not particularly tech-savvy population, approximately 50% of bookings were being made via phone calls. This placed a considerable burden on PR Transpo’s team, increasing their workload significantly.

Although the on-demand project in the rural counties was successful, the service was suspended on December 23, 2022, due to a lack of available staff and vehicle resources that hindered the service's efficiency. While the service is suspended indefinitely, PR Transpo set out to evaluate their operating model, including the size and number of vehicles, and how their called-in requests are managed.  

Although the service’s suspension was an unfortunate setback, we are still proud of the work that was done to bring this new, innovative service to a community that had lacked any shared mobility options for decades. Regardless of how user-friendly a service and technology may be, getting riders to change their transportation habits requires significant patience and time. Despite this, over the span of nearly 18 months, this community saw their ridership grow by over 15x. While we recognize there are many challenges in bringing efficient transit to rural communities, we hope that the service can be re-launched, such that we can continue supporting PR Transpo’s impressive growth in ridership for years to come.  


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