After Greyhound discontinued service to Lacombe in 2011, our City was left without bus service, which has since made local and regional travel difficult for some families, students, seniors and those with special needs.
As the then-newly elected mayor I tasked City administration to come up with a sustainable solution to this pressing issue. At long last the hard work by staff and their collaborative efforts with Blackfalds and Red Deer have paid off, and I am very pleased and excited to announce that we are launching ‘BOLT Transit’, a regional public transit service that will connect our communities, on Aug. 25th.
To celebrate the launch, the public is invited to a free pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Aug. 26th in the Lacombe Memorial Centre parking lot. We will have a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony after the breakfast. Blackfalds is also hosting a celebration in their community afterwards and I encourage everyone to attend both events if possible.
As part of the celebrations, you can ride the bus for free until Sept. 30th.
We have been getting lots of positive feedback from the community on this initiative, and anticipation is high. Both councils are very excited about this new service and we all see tremendous opportunity in linking our communities through public transit.
BOLT Transit will make six round trips a day during the week and three round trips on Saturdays. This service has great potential to help riders save money though reduced parking, fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
Our new low-floor buses are energy-efficient and fully accessible and can carry up to 38 passengers for a safer, stress-free commute. The buses also have amenities like dual bike racks at the front of the buses and free WI-FIaccess available on board.
The service is being cost-shared by Lacombe and Blackfalds and will be operated by Red Deer Transit. The City of Lacombe and the Town of Blackfalds are each committing one-third of capital funding to secure two buses and the City of Red Deer is contributing its portion of a provincial GreenTRIP funding grant to the program.
Red Deer will retain ownership of the buses and will provide for all on-going maintenance, staffing, equipment insurance and storage. Red Deer Transit will administer the regional service.
I believe that this partnership between our communities is a significant achievement and a great example of regional collaboration. It will provide an important quality of life benefit to a large number people by connecting our communities and transit riders will find that the bus service provides good access at an affordable price.
As Lacombe grows we will see significant demand for local and regional public transit options for individuals and families without access to personal transportation; for Canadian University College students; for large employers like AFSC; as well as seniors needing to access necessary services throughout the region.
The BOLT Transit service will be reviewed periodically and if ridership needs and resources permit, new routes and stops will be added in a systematic fashion to expand the service.
Finally, I would like to extend my congratulations to our partner municipalities and my thanks to the provincial government for its support. BOLT Transit would not have been possible without the close cooperation and collaboration between the three communities and the Alberta Government, which aims to improve the long-term viability and sustainability of the area through strategic activities related to regional collaboration, capacity building, and the promotion of economic prosperity.
For more information about BOLT Transit, including bus routes and fare schedules, please go to www.lacombe.ca/bolt.
Steve Christie is the mayor of Lacombe.