Haliburton County is looking at rideshare company Uber as a possible partner for transit in the area.

A program in Innisfil, near Barrie, has so far proved successful and County staff presented the idea to council last month.

Take a bus in a small town and you likely will have to travel five times further to get to a destination. Often running at less than full capacity, a bus will drive a route that covers the whole area before a rider gets to their destination.

Uber is a company providing ridesharing around the world using an app on a smartphone. Innisfil uses the Uber Pool system which matches rider demands going in the same direction to get two to three riders into one car at one time. It provides door to door service with the town subsidizing each ride to the amount of $5 and a typical ride costing passengers $3 to $5.

There is flat rate zone pricing around the town and the passengers are responsible for paying that through a credit or debit card set up on the app. No cash is used.

Haliburton County council was told that Innisfil, which did not have a transportation system prior to the start of Uber being introduced in 2016, handled 27,000 trips and in 2017 that number ballooned to 40,000. The town’s share of those rides came in at just under $150,000 in 2017. An initial proposal for a bus only system in Innisfil was around $600,000 for a five day a week service.

One concern is the difference in areas that need to be covered. Innisfil has a population of 36,500 spread over 262 square kilometres while Haliburton County’s population is half that over 4,000 square kilometres.

In 2016 Haliburton County had looked at a ride share option, exploring the use of a passenger van along major routes. The proposed price tag for a five day a week service was estimated at $192,000.

Council has asked staff to contact Uber and see if Haliburton County would be suitable for such an arrangement.