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The County of Renfrew is collaborating on an exciting and pioneering pilot and demonstration project of a ride share system to solve rural and small-town transportation challenges affecting many people in Renfrew County and across Ontario.

The County of Renfrew is collaborating with RideShark Corporation from Ottawa, to develop the world’s first winterized on-demand community transit network focused on improved mobility solutions for rural areas.

The county is presently working with RideShark on the development and deployment of a ride share system to serve commuters, employers, residents, students, youth and visitors to the county and facilitate travel around the region and beyond. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that service has been delayed until travel and gathering restrictions have been eased.

“We hope to soon launch our Renfrew County ride share platform, ShareTheRide.ca, in co-operation with local employers, schools, Algonquin College, seniors and community organizations,” states Warden Debbie Robinson.

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Sharon Lewinson, president of RideShark, explains that RideShark is a global leading provider of commuter management solutions that public sector, corporate and campus-based organizations use to promote safe and sustainable mobility options such as carpooling, vanpooling, public transit and active transportation all on one easy-to-use app. Leveraging its Unified Mobility platform, RideShark will develop a community transit solution that can withstand harsh Canadian winters on semi-urban and rural roads.

As the largest geographic county in Ontario, encompassing various different environments and populations centres, the County of Renfrew is the ideal partner to enable the development, testing and validation of an innovative transportation solution. Understanding the specific needs of community members and organizations – including social services and health agencies, employer associations and recreational groups – will enable the development of a complete solution.

With support from the Ontario government’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), RideShark and the County of Renfrew are developing and testing a leading transportation technology solution that will improve community accessibility, employment, health and social connections, as well as sustainability outcomes. Technology development will be carried out by RideShark, beginning early this year with fair weather test runs in the fall of 2021 and on-road winter conditions testing in January and February of 2022 to follow.

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Robinson is pleased to see the county working to bring such an innovative transportation solution to its residents and is excited about the collaboration with the Ontario government, through the Ontario Centre of Innovation and the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, and RideShark to host this world-leading pilot and demonstration project.

“We are thrilled to be awarded AVIN WinterTech Development funding to develop this game-changing technology in partnership with County of Renfrew,” Lewinson says. “On-Demand Community Transit is one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation sector and we intend to develop the first fully winterized solution to meet the needs of smaller and rural communities across Ontario, Canada and the world. We greatly appreciate the support of the Ontario government in this project which will allow us to create jobs, increase sales and develop new intellectual property, all of which is catalyzing our growth.”

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