Lacombe, Blackfalds and Red Deer will soon be accessible to each other via public transit as approved on Tuesday by Red Deer City council.
After much consideration and evaluation, the transit project will go ahead with the purchase of two buses for a cost of $900,000.
The cost will be shared with Lacombe and Blackfalds sharing one-third of the cost, and Red Deer would reassign the GreenTRIP funds to the project.
For Lacombe, this means better inter-city and intra-city travel at a reasonable cost to both citizens using the service, and taxpayers.
Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie said the idea came about when bus service was discontinued to the smaller communities through Greyhound.
“What used to happen was people would get on the bus in the morning and then catch it back when the schedule permitted, when that ended students, seniors and other citizens were left without any transportation,” said Christie.
Travel will be easy between the municipalities with nine stops planned for Lacombe when the project reaches its fully planned capacity, but the initial start-up may see only four to six stops in Lacombe.
Christie has supported the project from the beginning and agrees with the vision of the project and the idea of reducing the environmental impact of urban travel. The challenges of this project include the upfront capital costs and the fact that transit commuting is often more time-consuming than simply taking a personal vehicle.
“We’ve done exhaustive investigation into the possibility of private organizations offering services, but recently Red Deer recognized that they had unspent GreenTRIP funds that they gained permission to use on this project,” said Christie.
The Green Transit Incentive Program (TRIP) will provide one-time capital funding that will support new and expanding public transit through Alberta.
The program helps provide Albertans with a wider range of sustainable public transit alternatives for local, regional and intermunicipal travel.
The idea behind GreenTRIP funding is to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads, which will, in turn, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “Canadian University College was very excited about this idea because a lot of their students come from all around the world without vehicles and could really use this service.”
He said he believes this service is something that will fill a great need and he thanks the councils that have worked together to not let this project die.
“We all came through and it’s looking like something we can see through to the end.”
He also said it is important for those who do continue to commute to and from Lacombe to acknowledge the new signage at Hwy. 2A and 46th Ave.
“We just want to highlight to citizens and people in and around Lacombe that this is a recent upgrade and that it’s important to familiarize themselves with the intersection.”
The light just went fully operational on Aug. 20th and Christie said they are doing everything to make the intersection as safe as possible for the growing community and vehicle population.
“It’s just a change for people that have been driving through here for years. The next step is painting the lines.”