New provincial funding provides Cochrane with $2.125 million to support the purchase of electric buses to provide accessible regional service delivery into Calgary.
The Alberta Community Transit (ACT) Fund, announced yesterday, will be used to expand the current regional On-It Service to include an electric fleet, offer a more robust schedule, connect with Cochrane’s local on-demand transit and increase stop options in Calgary.
“The expansion of the regional service and integration with the local on-demand service is another small step to reduce the number of low occupancy vehicles traveling between Cochrane and Calgary each day,” explained Mayor Genung. “Investing in electric regional buses furthers Cochrane as a leader in green technology, research and innovation.”
The new buses will be owned by the Town and operated by Southland Transportation Ltd., as part of the local and regional integrated transit service. Ownership of the regional fleet will enable Cochrane to collect fares, negotiate low fare prices and gain greater regional transit autonomy.
The proposed electric regional bus service will connect Cochrane to the Crowfoot Calgary Transit interchange and provide daily service to the University of Calgary and SAIT during the school year. This service will also allow Calgary residents who work in Cochrane to connect from Calgary Transit to the new Cochrane transit hub and then use the new on-demand transit system to arrive at their place of work. If demand requires, this service will operate six days a week, allowing Cochrane and area residents to travel into Calgary on Saturday and link to the Banff On-It service in the summer months.
“Currently, the regional On-It service operates three routes direct to downtown Calgary with diesel coach buses,” added Genung. “These buses are not equipped with an accessible lift or entrance ramp. Investing in electric, accessible buses is a great opportunity for us to enhance an existing service, while also aiming to reduce the service’s environmental impact.”
The project received endorsement from the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board (CMRB) in December 2018. The Alberta Community Transit (ACT) Fund announcement provides 33 municipalities with a funding partnership to expand Alberta’s transit system, green Alberta’s transit fleet and increase transit ridership. The program provides $215 million to 33 municipalities over four years, starting in 2019-20, $141.4 million of which is through the Climate Leadership Plan.
Municipalities are required to match the investment funds. The Town of Cochrane will look to recognize the capital investment through a fare collection partnership with Southland Transportation Ltd. The Town has two years to report on how the funds will be spent.