“We believe that transit keeps the economy— our people and our goods — (literally) moving.”– Darla Price, Managing Director, Northumberland Manufacturers Association
A mere hour and a half drive from Toronto, Northumberland County weaves together seven distinct municipalities of historic towns, scenic rural areas and waterfronts, booming manufacturing industry and an ever-growing population of more than 89,000 people. With this growth in population and economic activity comes a growing need for more transportation options, especially for those who commute.
With the support of The Eastern Ontario Leadership Council (EOLC), a recent pilot project launched in late 2021 by the Northumberland Manufacturers Association (NMA) and Spark Centre client Hop In Technologies dubbed “NMA Rides” aims to make getting to, from and around Northumberland County a little easier.
The goal of NMA Rides is to find a transportation solution for County employees who commute to and from work (especially those working late night shifts in the manufacturing, medical and tourism sectors), support an employment demographic that faces transit challenges such as youth, new Canadians and individuals with disabilities, and to reach potential employees from outside of the County.
“We have minimal transportation options within Northumberland County.” says Darla Price, Managing Director at Northumberland Manufacturers Association, “The County represents many towns, and there isn’t a way to commute between these towns unless you have a car. Each town has its own bus system, and only Port Hope and Cobourg interconnect with one bus. If you work between 9 pm to 6 am, there are no transit options for employees, so most of our population commute by car.”
“This pilot project provides new transportation options for the residents in Northumberland County.” Boyd Reid, Founder of Hop In Technologies, says, “Unless you had a car, getting around Northumberland County was next to impossible, especially for early morning or late-night commuters. With Hop In Technologies, we’re now able to coordinate rides that expand the reach of transit in the County.”
Last year, the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council (EOLC) and the Ontario Ministry of Labour launched a Request For Proposals for potential funding of transportation projects designed to support the business community. Around that time, a colleague introduced the NMA to Hop In Technologies.
They felt that as both organizations were drivers of innovation and thrived on partnership, they could complement each others’ needs. The NMA’s support of workforce initiatives and Hop In Technologies’ knowledge of community transit infrastructure and innovative logistics platform was a match made in heaven. Hop In Technologies applied for funding through EOLC, and the pilot project was born.
NMA Rides utilizes Hop In Technologies’ logistics platform to design new routes to help people get to and from work. The first ride for NMA Rides started in September of 2021, and the coordinated effort has led to multiple new hires and a new mobility option for helping people obtain or retain their jobs.
“Since the program began, NMA Rides has been directly responsible for multiple hires who would not have been able to work without this transportation option.” Reid adds, “The NMA Rides program means more opportunities for the residents of the County.”
The pilot will run until July 2022, after which it will transition into a continuing co-pilot with Northumberland County, the Province of Ontario, Metrolinx and Hop In Technologies. The co-pilot expansion, announced by Minister Piccini and Minister Mulroney, includes a transit shuttle between Oshawa GO and Northumberland County to increase the reach of GO Transit into Eastern Ontario. Price feels that this pilot has only scratched the surface of opening doors to solid development within the County.
“Our pilot is proof that transit options can be launched and managed quickly when government and private stakeholders work together.” she says, “It’s all about the partnership!
For Hop In Technologies, this pilot project validated two main points: one being that transit and transportation resources are essential to communities, but they don’t necessarily require millions of dollars. Even a small investment like that of the EOLC could significantly impact the quality of life for communities. NMA Rides also validated the value and high potential of Hop In Technologies’ logistics software for addressing mobility concerns and connecting the business community to transportation resources. NMA Rides proved that when given the data, Hop In Technologies has the potential to support entire transit operations.
With the success of NMA Rides and Hop In Technologies’ expansion across North America, this innovative company has shown no sign of slowing down. Besides helping companies and municipalities across North America reach mobility solutions with its logistics platform, Hop In Technologies has also released tech to help improve operations for small to large transportation services like charter bus and school bus companies. They also plan on signing their first Smart City deals in Europe to expand their global influence on Smart Mobility.
“Hop In Technologies understands the immense barrier that transportation challenges pose on people, and our mission is to unlock the potential of mobility for everyone.”
For more information on Hop In Technologies visit https://www.hopintech.com/