Red Deer looking at revamping transit system

Provincial grant of almost $2.5 million received for future transit changes

North and south bus terminals linked to regional routes and a Gaetz Avenue rapid service are among possibilities as Red Deer considers a transit system overhaul.

The city’s transit ambitions got a boost last week when the province announced just under $2.5 million in funding for the project. It is hoped that grant can be leveraged into matching funding from the federal government.

Red Deer Transit manager George Penny said the money is connected to the Multi-Modal Transportation Plan that was approved by city council during this year’s budget.

“We’re doing a study now on the future of the transit system in Red Deer,” he said.

“Overall, the consultant will look at our whole system and come up with efficiencies and the effectiveness of how we utilize our system,” he said.

The federal and provincial grant funding would be used to cover the cost of putting into place transit system changes.

What those will be will depend on the recommendations of the yet-chosen transit consultants. The transit system study, which will include public input, is expected to be done this year.

Every facet of the transit system is on the table, from the size of the bus fleet and the types of buses included, to the location and number of bus stops and frequency of service. The city’s existing spoke and hub system, which sees routes fan out from the downtown bus terminal, will also be under scrutiny.

Penny said transit system standards will be looked at closely.

“Everybody has what they call transit standards. Those are things like how far should people have to walk to a bus stop.”

Among the concepts being considered is to have buses connect to Gaetz Avenue at its north and south ends where a rapid service would transport riders along the spine of the city. Those terminals could also link to the BOLT transit system that serves Blackfalds and Lacombe and the Highway 2A Regional Transit System, which connects the city to Innisfail, Penhold and Springbrook.

How those terminals would look and other details would be fleshed out later, should that option be chosen.

Penny said the transit system revamp is expected to take place over five to seven years.

The cost of the city’s transit system — whose revenues fell $200,000 short of costs largely due to lower ridership —was a topic during council’s budget deliberations this year. Several councillors spoke in favour of making public transit more efficient.

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