Future of city transit may include smaller buses

For 10 years Red Deer City Coun. Frank Wong has been pushing for smaller city buses, citing big buses with only a few passengers and the inability of the larger vehicles to get into older neighbourhoods with smaller streets.

For 10 years Red Deer City Coun. Frank Wong has been pushing for smaller city buses, citing big buses with only a few passengers and the inability of the larger vehicles to get into older neighbourhoods with smaller streets.

In 2014, one of many new transit initiatives proposed by Red Deer Transit include a smaller buses project.

“A lot of people are unhappy when empty, full-sized buses go by,” said Wong. “So for years I said ‘why don’t we get smaller buses.’

“Like feeders that pick up a little and then get on to the main lines.”

During the Community Services budget presentation to city council on Wednesday, director Greg Scott highlighted several ideas that may become part of the future of transit in the city including smaller buses feeding into bigger buses on the main routes; improved fare boxes, updating the current antiquated system; improved technology, which could even include ways to communicate to passengers how long they have to wait for the next bus; and increased fares.

Scott said, in his discussions with George Penny, Red Deer Transit manager, the benefits to having smaller buses are significant and Penny is quite supportive of the pilot.

“We’re getting requests for pickup and delivery at some locations in our city where big buses can’t access,” said Scott. “What the small bus would do would allow us to provide public transportation into those areas like the Michener Seniors residence in the Michener area.”

Scott cited other benefits such as reducing the number of people using the Action Bus by getting the smaller buses into certain areas where big buses can’t go and help put big buses on more direct routes.

The small bus pilot is anticipated to be part of the transit master plan update coming up this fall.

Scott said they may come out with an operational model that could include having smaller buses on feeder routes into big buses on major routes.

“The big buses perform best on direct routes,” said Scott. “They don’t perform best winding their way through the neighbourhoods. If we had a small bus program that could wind into there and get people, to drop them off on a more direct route, that may be a good option to look at.”

Scott pointed to an old transit plan that suggested having a bus route solely on Gaetz Avenue as an idea for their transit master plan update.

He projected a report on the cost and scope of the pilot may come to council in the first or second quarter.

Improved fare boxes will be able to track how much people put in the fare box and also include options for swipe cards and other forms of payment. These boxes will allow the service to better keep track of how the service is being used. There is also a new software initiative, which over the next two years will allow people to be informed through electronic media of when their bus should arrive, as well as announced bus stops in the bus.

The budget also asks to increase service into the Timberlands area, where Scott said the community has grown significantly over the past couple of years. It would add an additional $135,389 to the transit budget.

Scott said they are asking for an increase in fares, with adult fares increasing to $2.45 from $2.40 and youths seeing an increase to $2.15 from $2.10.

“We did a comparison with other communities across the province and we saw our fares were some of the lowest,” said Scott.

In a cost-saving measure, Scott proposed eliminating the free firewood provided in various city parks. He said if the free wood comes with some challenges, one of which is damage to city facilities.

“We’ve had some significant damage over the years, I think we’ve replaced the McKenzie shelter twice,” said Scott. “I can recall four or five shelters we’ve replaced because they’ve been burnt to the ground.”

However, he admits it would be hard to prevent people from just going into the area surrounding the park and using what they can find for firewood.

“There would have to be some sort of communication, if in fact council supports the elimination of firewood, as to where people can go to get firewood,” said Scott. “It is something families enjoy in our park system.”

Some Funding Requests/Adjustments by Division

Community Services

RCMP Member fee agreement — $601,775

RCMP Police member and municipal employee resourcing — $359,000

RCMP provincial funding shortfall for three RCMP members — $120,750

Policing traffic and vehicle safety initative — $306,093

New neighbourhood and downtown parks and landscaping — $213,300

Office of the Mayor and City Manager

Second Ipsos/Reid survey – $14,000


Just Posted

WATCH: Rappelling down Red Deer’s Stantec Building a thrilling, scary experience

Advocate reporter chronicles his trip down the 13-storey buildling

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

HMCS St. John’s to return to Halifax after six-month deployment overseas

HALIFAX — The countdown is on for the homecoming of a Halifax-class… Continue reading

Trump says lawyer taping him may be ‘illegal’

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his onetime… Continue reading

Spieth part of 3-way tie for British lead as Woods lurks

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead in… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month