City of Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer speaks to a group gathered at the Sorensen Station in Red Deer as the City of Red Deer celebrated the 50th anniversary of Red Deer Transit.

Red Deer Transit celebrates 50 years of service

Red Deer Transit has come a long way since the days of offering a dial-a-bus service.

Red Deer Transit has come a long way since the days of offering a dial-a-bus service.

When the city took over transit service from private operators on Sept.1, 1966, there were nine buses on the road.

Today there are 60 low floor buses, 23-passenger community shuttles and 24 Action Bus vehicles in the fleet.

Buses fill up at the city’s diesel fuelling station and soon 16 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses will be filling up at the city’s new CNG fuelling station at Civic Yards.

At a special ceremony at Sorensen Station on Wednesday, the city celebrated 50 years of providing public transportation.

Transit manager George Penny said as the population grows so does the demand for public transportation. Last year there were 3.8 million trips and in 2014, there were four million trips in Red Deer. On average the buses make 10,000 trips every day.

Penny said the bus service continues to be robust despite a slight dip in 2015, which he attributes to the low economy.

Red Deer’s transit system will continue to be meet the needs of residents with its system-wide intelligence transit, which enables GPS, said Penny.

Bus riders will be able to see when the next bus is coming in real time. The whole system is expected to be completed by the end of June 2017. The city is currently in the project’s procurement stage.

But that is not the only change on the road.

A couple of years ago, the city decided to place its bets on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). By next September, the city will have 16 CNG buses in the fleet and a fuelling station at Civic Yards. Work on the new station will start in August and the first five buses should arrive by November.

The city will have 19 CNG buses and by 2019, 40 CNG buses in the fleet.

Investing in CNG in the ever-changing world of technology has been criticized, notably by Coun. Paul Harris who said it is not the way to go. Harris has said that the city ought to explore other technologies.

But Penny is convinced that CNG is the way to go and it leaves the option open for trying other technologies.

“Electric still has a long way to go but CNG is moving across the country,” he said. “A lot of transit agencies have them. It is cleaner burning, less emissions, quieter and I think that is what people want.”

However the city is keeping a close eye on St. Albert, which is piloting a few electric buses in its fleet.

Different manufacturers have different charging methods for each type of electric bus, said Penny.

“If we went with one style bus we would have to put in a certain charging system and you wouldn’t be able to try another vehicle,” said Penny. “With CNG, that option is open. Across the country, places like Vancouver and Toronto are all moving to CNG … They are trying other options and I think we should look at other options. But I think CNG is a viable option for us.”

The city used in part GreenTrip funding and the Federal GAs Tax funding for the $6.1 million-project.

Mayor Tara Veer said the city recognizes that a key part of a healthy, active lifestyle for all citizens is having access to multi-modal transportation options to connect with the people and places in and around Red Deer.

Veer said it was a honour to recognize the transit staff both past and present during the ceremony.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

A lesson in excellence and success

Mary Kemmis, president of the Prairie Division of Black Press Media, and… Continue reading

Gravel operations could cloud pristine trout stream, say conservationists

Border Paving proposes to excavate below the waterline near the Raven Rriver

Alberta government firing election commissioner who was investigating leadership

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government is firing the province’s election commissioner,… Continue reading

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

Some Canadian universities are urging their exchange students in Hong Kong to… Continue reading

First-time novelist Ian Williams wins $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize

TORONTO — First-time novelist Ian Williams singled out a special member of… Continue reading

Central Albertans help families during holidays with Christmas Wish Breakfast

It takes a community to help a community. And Sunday morning at… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Nov. 19 The Mountview Sunnybrook Community Association will hold its AGM at… Continue reading

Opinion: The buck stops with Red Deer city council

Red Deer city council has taken measures to distance itself from decisions… Continue reading

Alberta government firing election commissioner who was investigating leadership

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government is firing the province’s election commissioner,… Continue reading

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

Some Canadian universities are urging their exchange students in Hong Kong to… Continue reading

First-time novelist Ian Williams wins $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize

TORONTO — First-time novelist Ian Williams singled out a special member of… Continue reading

Campus under siege as Hong Kong police battle protesters

HONG KONG — Police tightened their siege of a university campus where… Continue reading

US angers Palestinians with reversal on Israeli settlements

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday said it no longer considers… Continue reading

Pence aide’s testimony renews focus on VP’s Ukraine role

WASHINGTON — He knew nothing about the Ukrainian backchannel, his aides say.… Continue reading

Most Read