NREL On-Demand Transit Research and Fort Erie Case Study

Bonnie Powell, Stan Young, Rick Grahn, Andy Duvall, Colin Endsley, Josh Sperling

Research output: NRELPresentation


On-demand systems have increased in popularity in recent years, especially in rural and smaller-sized communities. This presentation provides a brief introduction to NREL's on-demand mobility research and an in-depth case study of the town of Fort Erie, Ontario. Fort Erie is a relatively sparsely populated region of 32,901 residents, spread across a land area of 166 square kilometers (64 square miles), for an average population density of 193 residents per square kilometer (500 per square mile). In October 2021, the town implemented a mobility-on-demand system integrated with smartphone software to replace its fixed-route community bus system, which consisted of four buses with three routes, each with a roughly 1-hour, one-way loop. The new service utilizes a fleet of six minivans, two of which are retrofitted with wheelchair-accessible ramps. The system may require that a passenger requesting a standard van walk up to 400 meters (a quarter mile) to their pickup location to optimize vehicle routing while providing origin-to-destination service. The on-demand system proved effective in providing service, eclipsing pre-pandemic ridership by 40%, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions per ride by 63%, and decreasing the cost to the town per ride by 29%. This presentation documents both the previous system and the new system in terms of routes, ridership, costs, fuel, and other notable system parameters. This work is part of an ongoing series of case studies on providing small communities with on-demand, right-sized vehicle service coupled with a smartphone application.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages31
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the Washington State Transportation Commission Coordination Meeting, 14-15 March 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5R00-85483


  • emerging technology
  • micromobility
  • on-demand
  • public transportation
  • rural mobility


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