By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Commuter Connect is a two-pronged effort – not just to get local residents to the Oshawa GO station and points west, but also to transport Northumberland residents internally within the county to the departure points in Cobourg and Port Hope.
Hop In Technologies Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer Boyd Reid, whose company has been involved in this technology-driven initiative, reported on its first few months to Northumberland County council’s Economic Development, Tourism, Land Use Planning standing committee this week.
They don’t run a transportation program, Reid stressed. They mobilize existing transportation capacity to co-ordinate resources to serve existing needs.
“Where people are located, how they want to be moved, how they can be moved.”
This one-year pilot project was launched in September, operated by Hop In Technologies in partnership with Northumberland County and Metrolinx. Its pilot funding came about through the efforts of the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council, Ontario Ministry of Labour and Northumberland Manufacturers’ Association after an initial survey to assess the need got 1,100 responses, demonstrating what Reid termed “a huge passenger demand.”
Weekday service is now available from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Its two major partners are Community Care Northumberland to transport riders within the county’s 500 km. of road and get them to pick-up points, where Durham Eastern Charters will take them to Oshawa.
The Durham Line has four westbound and five eastbound trips daily, picking up from the Northumberland Mall bus shelter in Cobourg and the Port Hope carpool lot at Philips Road and Wellington Street).
Community Care delivers riders there with five westbound and five eastbound trips daily, picking up in Campbellford (at the Canadian Tire), Brighton (at the carpool lot at 15336 Telephone Rd.) and Colborne (at the carpool lot on Percy Street).
Reid reports “continuous growth,” with the average trip consisting of 62 km. and the average rider being 54 years of age.
You don’t hop on and pay a fare, you don’t buy a ticket, Reid said. You purchase “rider credits” on-line (which have no expiry date) or there’s an in-person purchase option at designated Community Care locations.
On the Northumberland Line, prices range from $9 for a single credit to $81 for 10 rides, $156 for 20 and an unlimited monthly cost of $288.
On the Durham Line, prices range from $13 for a single credit to 118 for 10 rides, $226 for 20 and an unlimited monthly cost of $416.
And with respect to Hop In Technologies’ core value of environmental sustainability, they support the planting of mangrove trees – which absorb carbon emissions – to offset their carbon footprint. To date, Commuter Connect rides have resulted in 98 trees being planted for the 63,765.34 miles driven.
“I think it’s a great service that we have started, and I hope we can expand it to the other parts of the community as we need,” committee member Bob Crate commented.
“We have been talking about Northumberland-wide transportation opportunities as long as I have been at the council table in Brighton – which has been some time now,” committee Chair Brian Ostrander added.
“Good work! Thank you for partnering with local organizations in the county.”