Regional transit said ‘economic driver’

A bus transit partnership between the City of Lacombe, Town of Blackfalds and Red Deer Transit may curve some transportation woes.

A bus transit partnership between the City of Lacombe, Town of Blackfalds and Red Deer Transit may curve some transportation woes.

The City of Lacombe and the Town of Blackfalds have been reviewing a joint bus service proposal that would see them equally share the operational costs. As the service operator, Red Deer Transit would staff, maintain and store the buses out of both municipalities for $100 an hour.

City of Lacombe community and economic development manager Guy Lapointe said that a “valued transportation” option was ceased when Greyhound discontinued service to Lacombe and Blackfalds last year.

“We need to find a transit system that would address the needs of commuters, both to and from Red Deer, of students at the Canadian University College and shoppers both in and outside Lacombe,” Lapointe said at Monday’s City of Lacombe council meeting.

Council unanimously voted to further investigate the viability of a public transit system that would cost the two municipalities approximately $100,000 each. The research will be focused on public consultation, an operating model, verifying partnerships and determining potential ridership.

Ideally, the transit plan could be rolled out in the spring of 2013, Lapointe said. Lacombe is waiting on an announcement from Alberta Transportation regarding GreenTrip funding that could fund two-thirds of the cost.

“This would serve as the chief funding source for capital costs,” Lapointe said.

Coun. Ian Foster said he was recently talking to students at the Canadian University College who were in favour of such a service in Lacombe.

“So we finally have something where we can say that we are working on it and we understand that it is important,” he said.

As a business owner, Coun. Reuben Konnik had initial reservations over the transit partnership.

“One of the biggest challenges we have here is to get people to shop in Lacombe but there was discussion of an inter-municipal route and there is some potential with the college to transport students into the commercial district,” he said, recommending the continued discussion of an inter-municipal route.

“First of all, there is definitely a lot more work prior to an approval at least from our community,” Coun. Peter Bouwsema said.

“But I do believe that we should have a public transportation method. This could be an economic driver for our community.”

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