UMIT launches on-demand car service for West End

WESTERN MANITOULIN – United Manitoulin Islands Transit (UMIT) is launching a new on-demand car service pilot project to help better serve Manitoulin’s West End and is seeking drivers to help make this undertaking a reality.

“We’re still one driver short to be able to start,” Joahnna Berti, executive director of UMIT, told The Expositor.

These drivers will provide an on-demand connector service that will bring riders from Gore Bay and Kagawong into Mindemoya, Little Current and Manitowaning where they will also be able to connect with the regular UMIT bus route.

“We will roll up everyone in a similar position and similar destination and set them up with a driver,” Ms. Berti explained. “There will be other people in the car; it’s not just you in the car!” she laughed.

By way of example, a trip between Gore Bay and Little Current, one way, will cost approximately $35. “It’s very reasonable compared to a taxi,” Ms. Berti said. “This is much more affordable.” This works out to approximately 50 cents/kilometre.

However, she added, a full car is not contingent on making it move.

Ms. Berti acknowledges that the bus route is limited due to the massive size of Manitoulin and the time it takes to get from one end of the route to the other. She is hopeful this will help to eliminate some of these problems.

“Imagine you have a 10 am appointment at the hospital in Mindemoya but you live in Manitowaning,” she said by way of example. “This is why the on-demand service is an important one.”

Ms. Berti said UMIT is also hoping to electrify the system in the coming years. 

“Our ultimate goal is to have an online fleet of electric vehicles, plus the bus,” she said.

UMIT had launched a similar on-demand pilot project in Wiikwemkoong but had to cancel it due to much of the large First Nation territory not being Global Positioning System (GPS) located, a requirement of the on-demand service so that drivers might locate their fares.

While UMIT is seeking West End drivers as “volunteers,” there will be a 70/30 split. The driver will keep 70 percent of the fare, and UMIT keeps the remaining 30 percent.

“If we get more drivers, we get more riders, we can stabilize the system,” Ms. Berti added.

For more information on becoming a driver, please contact Ms. Berti at 705-280-0918 or email info@umit.ca.