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Bus service in Pincher Creek ends May 31

Saturday, 18 May 2019. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Bus service in Pincher Creek ends May 31

Pincher Creek’s Town Bus service ends May 31

At its meeting May 13, Pincher Creek town council approved the recommendation from the transportation committee to discontinue the scheduled bus service, effective May 31.

The bus, signage and bus shelters were purchased through a partnership grant from the federal and provincial governments (Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and Green Transit Incentives Program). It is widely recognized that public transit contributes to economic growth, the reduction of air pollution, the creation of inclusive communities, and accessibility to public services and job opportunities.

The original needs assessment showed demand for the service and the initial operating deficit was covered through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative Grant. After several months of operation it became obvious to the committee that the bus service was not in demand to the level that makes it “reasonable” to operate.

The consultant’s operating projections showed that if every person in the community rode the bus five times a year, the operating deficit would be approximately $105,000.

While it is recognized that no public transit operation shows a profit, the Pincher Creek system was far too empty, far too often, to make it viable. Under present circumstances, the operating deficit was projected to be approximately $130,000.

The committee recognized early on that it would take time to build ridership.

Initially, the service was “free of charge.” When a $3 fare per ride was applied, what small ridership there was simply disappeared.

Routes and schedules were altered several times in order to try to “fill in the service gaps.”

Through April, after trimming down to seven circuits twice a day, consolidating the route and encouraging ridership through a second no fee incentive, ridership increased to 94 for the month.

Although that was a significant increase over previous months, the committee made the decision at its May 9 meeting to recommend closure with regrets for any inconvenience this will cause to those who had started to use the system on a regular basis.

The transportation committee is presently exploring options for a regional transportation system in partnership with several communities in the southwest corner of Alberta.

With the demise of Greyhound, intermunicipal transportation has become a problem, especially for residents needing to get to medical appointments in Lethbridge or Calgary.

The Pincher Creek Handi-Bus Society will continue to offer full, on-call, door-to-door service and will run through the summer months as well.

The Handi-Bus Society partnered with the town to purchase a new van in 2018, which the town purchased in partnership with the University of Alberta Medically-at-Risk Drivers Fund. Handi-Bus operations are subsidized through Town and MD of Pincher Creek joint funding.