Rob Duncan poses with his taxi, in Lacombe. He hopes to bring affordable transportation options to rural commuters. Photo by Jessica Nelson/Lacombe Express

Lacombe taxi business hoping to expand services to include commuter bussing

Rob Duncan envisions a commuter bus from Alix to Red Deer, with a stop in Lacombe, faces adversity

A Lacombe business is facing pushback with its proposed bus line for commuters travelling from Alix to Red Deer.

Monthly bus passes for people travelling between Alix and Red Deer could be a reality with East Central Express, but low interest in the service and city bylaws are making it difficult for Rob Duncan to realize his vision.

Duncan says he wanted to start the service as another commuter servies is ending, but Lacombe’s bylaws is making it difficult to get the bus service up and running.

“I’m looking at that in town here because they are losing BOLT Transit System, but I might not be able to go ahead with it,” said Duncan.

The route for the service would be set up to run from Castor or Stettler and through Erskine, Alix, Clive, Blackfalds and Red Deer. It would only make sense to have a Lacombe stop, he says.

“I don’t want to get too crazy into it if I can’t run it in Lacombe. I could always just bypass and go through Blackfalds and Red Deer, but ideally, you’d do the route and then it’s good for everyone.

The town of Blackfalds recently made the move to replace its BOLT system with Blackfalds Transit Service which will offer on demand transportation to Red Deer starting Aug. 31. The City of Lacombe has not yet announced a replacement for BOLT Transit and was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.

Duncan is looking to start something similar with his 12-person transit van – a service in which people would call ahead or book on an app – but the demand isn’t there yet.

“I’m not running it because there hasn’t been any demand for it, but I’m getting set up…to take parcels. I think I’ll have the parcel drop off points and pickup stuff by the end of the week,” Duncan said.

Duncan started his local transportation business this spring so he could be home with his family. As a trucker, he was spending too much time away from home and the jump into the local transportation business only made sense.

“Logistics is my thing,” Duncan explained.

Duncan has big visions for what he wants to do with his company and how technology such as A.I and fuel efficiency can make transportation more affordable in rural areas.

“My goal, eventually, is to solve the rural transportation issue and make it affordable for seniors to age in place; or low-income people; or people who’ve lost their licence to get to town affordably and not pay $200 to go to Red Deer,” said Duncan.

“My goal, long term, is to solve the rural transportation issue and so I’ll keep working on that through the winter and probably do that once things start picking up again.”

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