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On-demand bus launches in North Grenville

North Grenville councillors, including Mayor Nancy Peckford at the right of the bottom row, pose with an NGtransit bus in a Facebook post last week. (Municipality of North Grenville/Facebook - image credit)
North Grenville councillors, including Mayor Nancy Peckford at the right of the bottom row, pose with an NGtransit bus in a Facebook post last week. (Municipality of North Grenville/Facebook - image credit)
North Grenville councillors, including Mayor Nancy Peckford at the right of the bottom row, pose with an NGtransit bus in a Facebook post last week.
North Grenville councillors, including Mayor Nancy Peckford at the right of the bottom row, pose with an NGtransit bus in a Facebook post last week.

North Grenville councillors, including Mayor Nancy Peckford, bottom right, pose with an NGtransit bus in a Facebook post last week. (Municipality of North Grenville/Facebook)

Another transportation option is making its debut in North Grenville.

The on-demand, eight-seater NGtransit bus went into service Monday. It can be booked inside municipal limits with as much as a month's notice and as little as 30 minutes notice on a first-come, first-served basis.

The municipality just south of Ottawa with Kemptville as its hub is nearing 20,000 residents, Mayor Nancy Peckford told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Monday.

Despite this, it has no taxi or ride-hailing service and only offered a bus for seniors and people with accessibility needs. That existing bus will continue.

"Our residents have been telling us for many years, and some of our businesses … that we need another option," Peckford said.

On-demand service is different than public transit buses that run set routes at set times.

Users can book over the phone, online or on an app and they can pay that way, too, whether for a single ride or a monthly pass.

It costs $3 for passengers between the ages of 12 and 19 to take a single trip, and $5 for older passengers. There's also the option to pay exact change on the bus.

The bus starts at 8 a.m. seven days a week. It runs until 8 p.m. on Sundays and 9 p.m. other days. There won't be buses on statutory holidays.

Two of the eight seats are saved for riders with accessibility needs. Bikes, strollers and pets in carriers are allowed.

Peckford said the bus will also benefit single-vehicle families that need more flexibility.

The municipality has contracted out the bus and booking app, proposing in its draft 2024 budget to use some money from a nearly $3-million contracting pool that also includes waste management and other services.

"We want people to use this service" Peckford said. "Fee recovery is not as important to us as things such as the provincial gas tax subsidy that helps offset the service. The more riders, the more we receive that support."

Vouchers for a free ride are being given out for the next month at certain community centres.

NGtransit starts with one bus in service, another as a backup and three drivers. The mayor said it can be adjusted if demand is high and if it's not working in a couple of years, "we're not locked in."

Staff are also looking a some kind of connection to Ottawa's OC Transpo service, according to the municipality.