Blackfalds studying regional transit options

Lacombe pulling out of BOLT regional transit at end of September leaving Blackfalds alone

Blackfalds is studying the feasibility of some sort of regional transit link with Red Deer.

The town was dismayed last September when the City of Lacombe announced it was dropping out of BOLT, a regional transit partnership that linked buses from Lacombe and Blackfalds with Red Deer’s transit system.

At the time, Blackfalds’ mayor and council said they were “disheartened” by Lacombe’s move, which they felt was premature.

Begun in 2012, the transit service was becoming more popular, and when proposed, had not been expected to generate a full return on the investment for 15 or 20 years, Blackfalds argued.

Lacombe cited low ridership levels, compared with Red Deer, and the annual $200,000 cost to Lacombe for its decision to pull out of the service as of the end of September 2020.

A request by Lacombe council to allow it to drop out of BOLT by the end of June was rejected earlier this month by Blackfalds town council.

Blackfalds Mayor Rick Poole said one of the reasons the town was reluctant to allow Lacombe to leave its partnership agreement early was to allow more time for a detailed review of future transit options.

“Part of the rationale of denying the Lacombe option was not to penalize Lacombe. We wanted to have the full amount of time to explore our options.”

The review is already underway and a report on the feasibility of a Blackfalds-to-Red Deer transit link, covering everything from costs to projected ridership numbers, is expected to be covered.

“We’re really in a holding pattern right now,” said Poole, who did not want to speculate on what sorts of options the town may consider.

“Council’s view right now is we want to see what the options are out there.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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