Lacombe’s exit from the BOLT transportation system is back on the table after City of Lacombe Councillor Don Gullekson made a notice of motion at council on Sept. 9.
The system, which ferries passengers between Lacombe Blackfalds and Red Deer and costs Lacombe taxpayers around $225,000 per year, has been under increased scrutiny since. committee was struck to see if BOLT ridership, scheduling and efficiency could be improved to serve the community better.
The motion also comes after Cold Shot Bus Lines also introduced a private HWY. 2A bus system between Edmonton and Calgary and also had stops in Red Deer, Blackfalds and Lacombe. Gullekson said part of the original mandate of BOLT was to replace the outgoing Greyhound commuter busses.
“This new service is coming in, so maybe it is time we redirect our public transit thinking to more of a local theme,” he said
Gullekson said he made the motion after he saw nothing was coming out of the committee, which included representatives from each municipality it serves. Gullekson was initially of a supporter of the committee
“The commitee had a chance to look at it and discussions with members on that board was going nowhere,” he said.
Gullekson saw no commitment to improve the system of increase ridership, leading to his conclusion to consider the removal of it.
“It is very expensive and a number of other communities are looking at these commuter buses including Leduc and Red Deer,” he said.
In consultation with members of the community, Gullekson said there is much more need and want for an intermunicipal bus service within the boundaries of Lacombe.
“I would like to see that funding go into community busing that would provide for the needs of seniors and children in our community,” he said.
Gullekson said the local bus service would need to have strict set schedule and he recognizes that it likely would cost more than the current BOLT system.
“Will it be cheaper? Probably not, but maybe it will provide a service to our community,” he said.
Gullekson reminded Lacombe residents that a notice of motion does not mean the end of BOLT is done deal.
“There will be discussion and it could be defeated. Certainly the two members on the committee will be very vocal on whether it should be continued or not,” he said.
The motion will come back to council on Sept. 23.