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Powell River launches new pilot to address on-demand bus service

The Zunga Bus is coming to Powell River in 2021. 

The new pilot project is aimed at increasing on-demand bus services in the region and will launch this January. 

Sustainability Planner Anastasia Lukyanova says it’s a hybrid between a ride-hailing service and a bus because it will travel on a route that’s made in real-time.

“Say for example if you want to go from the ferry to Townsite market. You would pull out your phone and you would tap Townsite market and the app will say ‘okay we’ll pick you up in10 minutes and we will drop your off in 20 minutes’ and you tap yes.” 

“If there is someone else requesting a ride in the same direction then the bus may make another stop on the way, so you may be delayed by a couple of minutes.”

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The pilot project will run for one year and serve Westview with a few stops in Townsite and will feature wheelchair accessibility. 

Lukyanova adds that the project is a great way to test out something that will benefit everyone in the community.

“(We) hear a lot in the community folks saying, ‘why dont we have smaller buses’, ‘why isn’t the transit system more nimble’ and really feel like there is an opportunity there with the new on-demand technology. We want a bus service that covers the whole community but we also want it frequent so that it’s useful for people.” 

“With the on-demand, the idea is that you can hopefully have both. You can have good coverage but also have a more direct and quick responsive system,” explains  Lukyanova.

The city says if the pilot is successful, they plan to explore an on-demand service for the entire community in the future.

“We hope that it will be popular in the community. We will be tracking ridership very closely and see what type of trips people are making, what time of the day, etc,” says Lukyanova.

To learn more about the one-year pilot program, visit the City of Powell River’s Facebook page.

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