City getting in line for transit grants

The transit manager with the City of Red Deer said they will definitely apply for the Government of Alberta’s newest public transit funding program.

The transit manager with the City of Red Deer said they will definitely apply for the Government of Alberta’s newest public transit funding program.

Kevin Joll said staff will spend the next few months evaluating the upcoming municipal budget to see how they can factor in the financial support the Conservatives are offering with it’s $2 billion Green Transit Incentives Program, or GreenTRIP.

On June 22, the province officially announced this latest initiative that will see the Tories cover two-thirds of capital funding projects that will boost public transportation in various municipalities across Alberta.

And while discussions regarding GreenTRIP are just getting underway locally, Joll figures the city will apply for a lump sum to help purchase a few more buses.

“The kind of things we’re going to focus on are purchasing vehicles,” he said. “And in fact, we could also look at purchasing vehicles that are more environmentally friendly.”

The city currently owns 50 full-sized buses that service the 40 routes throughout Red Deer.

GreenTRIP will provide one-time capital funding to support new and expanded transit systems across the province in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If you’re sitting at an intersection, imagine 50 cars instead of 50 people on the bus,” Joll said, explaining the importance of persuading more people to park their cars and use public transit instead.

He add that city has experienced over a 36 per cent increase in ridership since 2004.

“Having efficient and regional transportation certainly helps our communities grow, and we can manage that in a responsible and environmentally conscious way,” said Tammy Forbes, spokesperson with the Government of Alberta.

Municipalities are required to contribute at least one-third of the capital cost of the project, with GreenTRIP covering the balance.

The deadline for the first of two rounds of applications is November 30. The second round will be due by sometime in the spring of 2011.

Calgary and Edmonton are both set to receive $800 million dollars through the program while the remaining $400 million has been earmarked for the other municipalities in Alberta.

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com