Montréal-based startup Blaise Transit has secured a three-year contract with the Nova Scotia Community Transportation Network to deploy its technology in up to 23 communities across the province.
Blaise wants to improve the accessibility of community transportation in Nova Scotia, including in many locations in remote and rural communities.
“Our app gives people living in rural communities the choice to alter these routes to better serve their needs.”
Blaise’s technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to run on-demand bus routes that users can request from their phones. The province is providing $525,000 over three years to support the project, and the tech will be gradually deployed to each of the 23 communities in Nova Scotia over 12 months, starting in the summer of 2023.
“Getting to work is a major issue for many Canadians who rely on fixed bus routes for transportation,” said Justin Hunt, CEO of Blaise. “Our app gives people living in rural communities the choice to alter these routes to better serve their needs.”
Blaise said it is the first service in North America to use existing buses by partnering directly with transit agencies. The startup claims this will also be the first provincewide transit dispatch operators partnership in Canada.
Hunt claimed that apps with similar models tend to fail, citing that they need new vehicles to operate. “Blaise eliminates these costs by working with existing transit systems.”
Founded in 2018, Blaise has worked with dozens of municipalities across North America on projects using on-demand, paratransit, fixed, and flex transit models. The startup said it hopes that its Nova Scotia project will serve as a leading example to other transit agencies that look to deploy on-demand transportation and dispatch management software in multiple cities.
Among the 30-plus communities that are working with Blaise is Laval, where the company has claimed to have raised operating margins by over 34 percent with an 11 percent decrease in trip times.
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“This new technology has the potential to better position our community transportation providers across the province to build a stronger and more accessible network, resulting in the ability to better serve the transportation needs of all Nova Scotians for years to come,” said Leslie Taylor, provincial coordinator of the Nova Scotia Community Transportation Network.
Blaise will begin with the implementation of its dispatching portal to improve the efficiency of booking trips, producing reports and invoicing clients. Later in the project, the Blaise app and navigation tool will be used to allow riders to book their trips digitally.
Blaise argues that many transit companies cannot expand routes, stops or schedules due to the existing operational inefficiencies eating into their budget. The startup claimed only 24 of 6,700 United States transit agencies employed on-demand routes last year. With that in mind, Blaise is looking to continue to create partnerships to expand globally.
“Dependable transit makes communities stronger,” said Nova Scotia Public Works Minister Kim Masland. “I want to thank the Nova Scotia Community Transportation Network for their leadership on this project and I know that the network and Blaise Transit will work hard to develop a technology solution that meets the specific needs of our Nova Scotian communities.”
Feature image courtesy Pixabay. Photo by Claudio Bianchi.