BOLT Transit, the bus service that connects Lacombe and Blackfalds to Red Deer, has now marked over one year of service.
After review, several service level changes are now on the way including an early arrival time in Red Deer, a 4:45 p.m. departure time from Sorensen Station in Red Deer as well as additional time added to the express round trip and local route, allowing ideal arrival times for high school students.
Lacombe City councillors approved the review and service level changes at their regular council meeting on Monday night.
BOLT was started last year as a partnership to connect the three communities together and is provided as a service by Red Deer Transit.
“Council is pleased to see that BOLT Transit is attracting a strong base of 1,200 to 1,600 riders a month, which helps to promote the livability of our City,”said Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie. “However, there are always opportunities for efficiencies to make this regional public service more sustainable.”
City of Lacombe Community and Economic Development Manager Guy Lapointe said overall ridership has been consistent throughout the year. The main groups identified that use the service are commuters and students, including those who attend high school, Red Deer College and Burman University.
“There was a need to add additional time into the bus schedule to improve overall operational efficiency and service reliability,” he said. “The changes amount to 15 minutes of additional time for the express round-trip and 21 minutes added to the local route to accommodate the new Abbey Centre stop in Blackfalds.”
The increased times and frequency of the bus service does maintain current service levels for most riders, however with the earlier departure time from Red Deer, some commuters may have to adjust their schedules.
Some operational concerns were also identified during the review and on board survey conducted earlier this month. Council also approved changes to these concerns. Three bus stops in Lacombe were recognized as having safety and accessibility issues. The stops (northbound Woodland Drive, southbound C&E Trail/Elizabeth Park and southbound arena) will now be moved to address the concerns.
“Consistent feedback has been that both existing and potential users would like to see the route extended to Red Deer College and Bower Place Mall,” said Lapointe. “This would not be practical for BOLT Transit, given both the additional cost and extended length of the trip. However, Red Deer Transit is willing to pilot a program between Nov. 1st, 2015 to Nov. 1st, 2016 which would allow BOLT bus pass holders to transfer onto Red Deer Transit’s Route 10 at no additional cost.”
The Route 10 bus in Red Deer includes stops at Red Deer College, Bower Mall and the Red Deer Hospital.
Soon Red Deer Transit will be moving towards an automated fare system which will abolish paper tickets. Cash will still be accepted on the bus.
The BOLT Transit changes will come into effect on Nov. 1st.