Lacombe Express File Photo

Lacombe City Council votes to keep BOLT transit service

Council instructed administration to look into other transit alternatives

Lacombe City Council voted to maintain the BOLT transit system, which provides transportation to Blackfalds and Red Deer.

The motion to dissolve BOLT was voted down in a 4-3 decision, with Mayor Grant Creasey, Councillor Chris Ross and Councillor Reuben Konnik voting to dissolve the service.

Bolt Transit originally launched in August 2014, with cost being shared equally between the City of Lacombe and the Town of Blackfalds — with Red Deer Transit operating the service. The original deal had an 18-year term, with members needing to provide one year’s notice to cancel the service.

Councillor Ross’ motion at Council intended to give cancellation notice on July 1st, 2018, meaning service would have been cancelled on July 1st, 2019.

The motion was rejected in favour of Council instructing administration to form a governing body to gather more information and look for other transit alternatives.

Councillor Thalia Hibbs, who voted to keep BOLT transit for the time being, said she doesn’t want to go down the process of eliminating BOLT because it is premature to do so.

“We owe it to ratepayers to make the best decision possible and I don’t believe the motion supports that,” she said.

One option for the City is to consider is Burman University’s proposal to introduce a UPass, which would be a three-year commitment that would require each Burman student to pay $200 as part of their annual fees.

This commitment would require BOLT to offer an additional Monday-Friday evening trip and a Sunday Charter service.

Under this proposal, Saturday BOLT service would be cancelled and service to Burman would begin on Sept. 1st, 2018.

The Burman proposal has the potential to increase cost recovery from six per cent in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2019, according to a report provided to Council and it also could decrease the cost per ride to $11.52 if there is a 10 per cent increase of ridership.

In accordance with the time-sensitive proposal from Burman, Council instructed administration, in a 4-3 decision (Creasey, Konnik and Ross not in favour), to investigate the Burman proposal further — with a caveat being that they would continue to explore other transit options and negotiate the three-year term if needed.

Public feedback given to Council regarding BOLT requested that the frequency of service needed to be increased; an evening and Sunday service needed to be added; transit times needed to be better aligned with Red Deer Transit morning start times; service needed to be extended to Iron Wolf, MacKenzie Ranch and Willow Park and free transfers to other Red Deer transit routes needed to be provided.

More information regarding the BOLT information provided to Council can be found here.

todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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