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Transit Executive Committee: Whitby Autonomous Vehicle, mobile paramedic clinic, PICs

LIAM HATCH, Communications Advisor, Durham Transit

DURHAM: Members of the Transit Executive Committee (TEC) met virtually, on Wednesday, February 3th, to discuss various Durham Region Transit (DRT) initiatives and updates, which included the Whitby Autonomous Vehicle pilot, the mobile paramedic clinic, Public Information Centres (PICs) and the 2021 Business Plan and Budget.

Details and highlights: Whitby Autonomous Vehicle pilot: This pilot is a partnership with DRT, the Town of Whitby and other various stakeholders. Region staff are playing a vital role in deploying an autonomous shuttle and accompanying smart infrastructure in south Whitby. Due to COVID-19 related delays, the launch of the pilot has been pushed back to spring 2021. Communications about the pilot will be available soon.

Mobile paramedic clinic: DRT proudly collaborated with Region of Durham Paramedic Services (RDPS) to launch a mobile COVID-19 clinic. DRT retrofitted two retired buses to enable RDPS to offer safe and secure COVID-19 testing services at key locations, identified by the Durham Region Health Department. DRT operations will ensure the bus safely makes it to each destination, while the maintenance teams will oversee cleaning and servicing. Communications about the clinic will be available soon. PICs: DRT will host virtual PICs to engage with residents of Durham Region and stakeholders, to gather feedback on customer policies and a new draft social equity policy.

More information will be available on DRT’s website beginning March 1. Communications about the PICs will be available soon. 2021 Business Plans and Budget: While focused on developing and implementing measures to ensure customer and employee safety, during the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, DRT was able to advance projects and programs important to long-term viability for transit in the Region. Projects and programs included: a sustainable On Demand service throughout the rural areas and low demand zones within urban areas; funding to advance rapid transit projects and hybrid electric buses; and advancing the battery electric bus pilot which will see electric buses in 2022. For 2021, DRT will rely on operational savings and the unspent allocation of funding from the provincial/federal Safe Restart Program for transit to mitigate COVID-19 revenue losses, resulting from continued lower ridership, the U-Pass, and additional cleaning and disinfection activities.

“The mobile COVID-19 clinic is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together. The partnership between Durham Region Transit and the Region of Durham Paramedic Services will ensure COVID-19 testing in the Region remains flexible, effective and safe,” explained John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer.

“During the pandemic, our successes [are] a result of the dedication of all staff to deliver safe public transit for Durham residents. Looking ahead to 2021, we’re excited to be adding additional transit service, to support new businesses, as well as previous and new customers as they begin travelling again within the Region.” stated Bill Holmes, General Manager of Durham Region Transit.

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