BOLT transit ending Saturday service to Blackfalds, Lacombe

New weekday evening trip, adjust times starting Sept. 1

Changes to a regional transit bus include the elimination of service on Saturdays.

On Thursday, it was announced the BOLT Transit system would no longer operate on Saturdays as of Sept. 1. However, a new trip in the evening will start to help students at Burman University, in Lacombe.

The hope is the evening trip will also help commuters get home at night.

“Given our Saturday service uptake was extremely low, we felt it was in our best interest to accommodate (Burman University) with an extra trip that would enable their students to make use of their service,” said Grant Creasey, Lacombe Mayor, adding the hope is to reduce costs for them as well.

Burman University students will be able to purchase a student pass, for $200 a year. The hope is the low-cost pass could increase ridership.

Other changes made to the service include a second stop in Blackfalds for the express bus on northbound trips and new timing and route of the first morning trip.

The first northbound trip starts at 6:03 a.m. from its Red Deer stop at 78th Street. Currently, the first northbound trip starts at 6:15 a.m. at Sorensen Station.

The first southbound trip starts at 6:46 a.m. at Burman University, 20 minutes earlier than the current start time of 7:06 a.m.

This move increases the number of trips on weekdays from six to seven. Two of the trips will be local, with more stops, and five will be express trips.

The regional transit service was put under review earlier this year because of the ridership numbers. According to a report, only 23 per cent of the service’s $270,000 cost is recouped through fares. The rest is subsidized by Lacombe and Blackfalds.

Ridership on BOLT dropped from 20,149 in 2016 to 19,751 last year.

The service began operating in 2014 and connects Lacombe and Blackfalds to Red Deer’s transit system.

Earlier this week, it was announced Innisfail, Penhold and Red Deer County would get their own regional transit service as part of a two-year pilot project. The project will receive $700,000 from the province.

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