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Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeHealth and LifestyleCould UBER be coming to Kawartha Lakes?

Could UBER be coming to Kawartha Lakes?

KAWARTHA LAKES- UBER is one of the options discussed at a Rural Transportation Summit held in Fenelon Falls on Thursday.

More than 50 local residents along with stakeholders, businesses and community leaders gathered at the Community Centre to help devise a concrete, new plan to move rural transportation forward in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Mike Perry, the new President of the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce, hosted the event. “A few years ago City of Kawartha Lakes council mandated a poverty reduction strategy. One of the issues that was quickly identified in the survey that we did was the need for rural transportation” Perry says transportation tied for 1st place as the #1 thing people needed to help get a job and for childcare.

Vivian Martell is a senior living in Fenelon Falls. She was dealt a double whammy recently when she had to have heart surgery and lost her car.  Now she has to rely on friends to get around. “I have to phone friends and plan my day very carefully so that I’m not taking them too far out of their way to get where I need to go to pay my bills and pick up my groceries and medicine.”  She says she can’t rely on friends forever and that’s why she felt compelled to take part in the summit.  ” Because we live in such a vast are it’s hard to get from A to B, if you don’t have a car, you’re stuck.” she says.

Vivian Martell

Perry says this summit is meant to get things done. “This isn’t going to be business as usual. We don’t need any more ideas, we are rich with ideas, what we need is action.”

They’ve narrowed down those ideas to five and brought in experts from across the province to discuss them with the community members.

Paul Pentikainen, Head of Planning in Innisfil was brought in to talk about a pilot project his community is doing with UBER. Innisfil is the first town in Canada to partner with the controversial ride-hailing service to provide a ride-sharing, on-demand transit service. Innisfil is just south of Barrie and has a population of approximately 36,000. They brought in the service to help address community concerns about the lack of transit. The pilot just launched in May and Pentikainen says they had 2000 trips in the first month. Riders pay $3 to $5 dollars depending on the destination. The city makes up the difference in the cost of the ride. Council has allocated $100,000 for funding in 2017 and $125,000 fo 2018. That’s a far cry for the $600,000 in start up costs to get a single bus on the road according to Pentikainen. “If no one is using the service, it doesn’t cost us anything.” he says.

In Norfolk County, they have one bus that makes various stops in each town on a fixed route service. “What we’ve been able to do is bring people from the outlying towns because we are lucky to have a bit of a community hub in the centre to get people into and we’ve built transportation within those towns to travel within them and between them to make it work.” says Brad Smith, Public Transportation Coordinator for Norfolk County.  A round trip ticket is approximately $10.  He told the summit that  1/3 of their riders are using the service to get to work and 50 % are using it to go to medical appointments on a regular basis. “The no-show rates have dropped dramatically for things like social services meeting etc.” Although this service isn’t yet financially profitable it is socially profitable.

Norfolk also has a shuttle that runs every weekend in the summer. It’s called the South Coast Shuttle and business pay to sponsor a “stop” at their business.

Ted Wilson, Vice President of Student First Transportation bussing company talked about how school buses could be utilised to help alleviate the problem. He said school buses are an asset that is paid for by tax dollars and are underused. The group is looking at ways to maximize them when they aren’t on the road.

Fleming College students Madeline Williams and Joel Willett were on hand to talk about shuttle passes and how the community could possibly use the shuttle that goes back and forth for students. They also have a bike-sharing program that could possibly be shared with residents.

After hearing from the presenter’s residents broke out into groups to discuss each option. Perry said information and thoughts from the summit will be used to help formulate a plan to take to council. “We are going to take all that and roll it up and produce a concrete plan with three or four components we can then bring to council with something they can say yes to”

The plan will go to council in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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