Transit reduction disappoints Red Deer councillor

Reinstated 10:45 p.m. run to be cut again

A Red Deer city councillor is disappointed to see the end of a late-night Transit bus run that council had reinstated just a year ago.

“Numbers aren’t always the most important thing,” Lynn Mulder said Thursday, one day after the decision by council to dump the 10:45 p.m. bus because of low ridership.

Mulder, Paul Harris and Buck Buchanan voted against the recommendation by administration on Wednesday to end the run as each of the 10 routes was averaging just five passengers on it.

“There are some people who obviously depend on that service,” Mulder said.

Transit users will still be able to catch the 10:15 p.m. or the final 11:15 p.m. buses. Ending the 10:45 p.m. run means riders will have to wait longer downtown for their bus at the end of the day.

One citizen, Cherise Piercy, had spearheaded a petition a few years ago calling for the specific run — which had ended about five years earlier — to be reinstated. She was concerned about safety as people waited for their bus at night at Sorenson Station. The Advocate was unable to reach Piercy on Thursday.

Mulder said Piercy was very happy last year when council decided to reinstate the service, effective September 2016. The latest decision does allow for the run to continue until the end of August.

Maintaining the 10:45 p.m. run would have resulted in a 0.2 per cent increase to the property tax rate. Ending it will save the city $235,000.

Transit Manager George Penny went down to Sorenson Station three times to gather anecdotal information about the 10:45 p.m. run from Transit users. They did not know he was the Transit manager.

Many told him that they had got used to the 10:45 p.m. run not being there before so they just took the one before or after, Penny said. “That was the right cut if we were going to cut anything,” he said.

A lot of people finish work at 11 p.m. so he didn’t want to see that cut. He said that while he understands it is disappointing, they will continue to monitor ridership and if it changes they can review the decision.

He did not support the decision to reinstate the run last year. With the new electronic fare system, they were able to get a precise reading of the average rides per hour.

While Transit does not make money, it does need to be as viable as possible, Penny said.

A new Transit master plan is coming together in conjunction with the city’s transportation and trails and path plans. There could be some synergy there and thus some savings, Penny said.

He expects the new Transit plan to go before council in the third quarter of this year.

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