Canada's DRT Teams with Spare for Microtransit Program


Durham Region Transit (DRT), which includes the communities east of Toronto like Ajax, Oshawa, and Pickering, partnered with Spare to launch an extensive on-demand microtransit service. It promises to increase transit access and improve travel times for more than 600,000 residents.

Spare, a Canadian-based on-demand transit software provider, lets transit riders request public transportation straight to their door or a convenient stop from their smartphone. Its algorithm optimizes all trip requests in real-time to create cost and time efficient routing of small-scale vehicles such as minibuses, shuttles, and cars.

DRT’s microtransit project encompasses over 30 on-demand transit zones, including urban and more rural areas. When residents and commuters in these zones require transit, they simply need to fire-up Spare’s white-label DRT app or the third-party Transit app and input their desired pick-up location/destination. Travel can be reserved anywhere from days to 15-minutes before desired pick-up time.

The launch marks the first time Spare is working with Transit app. The third-party multimodal app allows users to plan their transit trips and, in some cases, pay for them all in-app. For instance, a DRT passenger can use Transit to evaluate what their trip might look like if they start with microtransit, connect to an area GO Train commuter line, and then what bus they will need to take to get to their final destination in the city.

On top of offering four dedicated vehicles for the on-demand service — vehicles owned and operated by DRT — the agency is also using Spare’s capabilities to broker trips to local taxi companies where it anticipates a bump in ridership. Brokering allows DRT to better manage demand fluctuations on the all-day service, which runs from 5:30 am until midnight. When activated, trip brokering works like any other trip request in Spare. The system evaluates the demand and determines whether it is more cost and time efficient to dispatch a taxi versus one of the agency’s minibuses.