Waterdown on board with on-demand transit pilot
On-demand transit hailed as win for Waterdown
Mac ChristieFlamborough ReviewThursday, February 4, 2021
Business and seniors advocates are hailing the recently-announced on-demand transit service pilot for Waterdown as a win.
The pilot program, set to launch in September, will see residents able to order an HSR bus ride with a smartphone app. The plan, funded from the existing Waterdown transit budget, will use 30-foot buses to pick up riders at a mix of existing and new bus stops, including Harry Howell Arena and business park locations near Highway 6.
Flamborough Chamber of Commerce executive director Matteo Patricelli said the organization has been advocating for on-demand transit for years and the pilot was highlighted as a potential solution at the Chamber’s transit roundtable in early 2020.
“It’s what we’ve been asking for,” he said.
Having easier access to a variety of locations, including business parks and the Aldershot GO station, should make it easier for businesses to attract employees, Patricelli said. But Waterdown businesses, he stressed, still need transit links to larger population centres like the urban centre of Hamilton or Burlington.
HSR is looking at introducing a “direct transit link” between Waterdown and downtown Hamilton, according to transit planning manager Jason VanderHeide. Plans have not yet been released.
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge said is “very excited” about the pilot, which has been in the works for years. She said the impetus for on-demand transit came after hearing from businesses — namely those on Innovation Drive — that the lack of transit was a major an issue in being able to attract and hire employees.
Partridge said if the pilot is successful, the city would look to expand it to other areas of Flamborough and potentially other parts of Hamilton.
However, Rob McCann of Clearcable and the Hamilton Technology Centre said while the on-demand transit pilot may be helpful for people getting around the community, it likely won’t solve the issue for businesses who are struggling to attract employees to Innovation Drive.
McCann said the existing transit in the community is lacking and even getting to the Aldershot GO station with the existing Waterdown bus options can be difficult. Instead, he said the key transit priority for Waterdown should be a route to McMaster University or downtown Hamilton.
“I think the city needs to make that investment on a full scale — a part-time pilot is not super interesting to us,” he said. “If you’re a McMaster student and you want to get a co-op job at the Hamilton Technology Centre but you don’t drive, it’s a non-starter.
Meanwhile, John A. Krpan of the Krpan Group, which is proposing the massive iConnect live-work development that would reshape Clappison’s Corners, said they’re excited about the outside-the-box pilot project that could help attract other large and small businesses to the development.
“iConnect is built so you don’t need a car and the on-demand transit would allow any future residents to live here without further need for a vehicle.”
Flamborough Connects executive director Amelia Steinbring said the pilot is a “great idea.”
“I think this is going to have a huge impact on youth and anyone who doesn’t have adequate transit in the Waterdown area, including seniors,” she said.
However, Steinbring said as the pilot is expected to be app-based, it could limit the utility for people who may not have access or the ability to use the technology.
“I really hope that they have an adequate outreach and education program in order to really generate use of the program,” she said.
Partridge said while her understanding is the pilot will be delivered through an app, it will be required to be accessible.
“We need it to be open to everybody.”
-with files from The Hamilton Spectator.