Commuter transit service trial pitched for Foothills

Foothills: Feasability study to determine transit needs in coming weeks

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 05:28 pm

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Growing communities in the foothills could get a transit connection to Calgary, if a new study shows there is enough demand for a service.

The Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) will conduct a feasibility study over the next few weeks, phoning 300 residents to learn more about their commuting needs. Based on what the study finds, Okotoks could be a part of a regional transit system pilot project as soon as 2015. The service would connecting Okotoks, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Nanton and Calgary.

While the project is primarily focused on bringing in a not-for-profit model to meet the needs of commuters with morning and afternoon trips, regional transportation program manager Ettore Iannacito said there is a possibility of adding additional day trips as well.

“We might put some trips in the mid-day, it's all based on need and cost, so we're trying to determine what those needs will be with the study,” he said. “We’re going to start by conducting a telephone survey and we're going to have a web survey as well and we're going to be attending events in the community just to get the message out there.”

Iannacito said it’s the CRP’s job to facilitate proper growth for the rapidly expanding region, and proper transportation is a key part of that.

“There’s going to be another 1.8 million people within the next 30-40 years. In order to manage the growth, you need some pillars in place and one of them would be a transportation system that can move people around,” he said. “Otherwise you're going to be building a lot more ring roads and highways. We want to reduce the footprint of growth and in order to do that you need a good transit system.”

The CRP will fund the feasibility study and pilot project primarily with money they receive from government grants. Iannacito said it’s important for all of the municipalities to work together on projects like this one.

“It’s really difficult for each municipality to take this on their own. For example, if Okotoks was going to be responsible for implementing their own regional service between Okotoks and Calgary, they would have to pay for it all, but they're a member of the partnership so we work together and we work to apply regional economies of scale.”

Coun. Matt Rockley said transit is something that has been talked about for many years in the community.

“I wish that some local transit was also part of (the plan), I personally see that as a bigger need,” Rockley said. “But we certainly have a lot of commuters, I believe 60 per cent of the working population in Okotoks, most of those heading to the city. It’s something that could be used.”

Iannacito said a transit system would be beneficial for everyone in the region, and he’s hoping the study shows support for the pilot project.

“The towns are very excited about it because it’s always great to talk about what you would like to do and this is really the first opportunity that we have to demonstrate and put something tangible out there,” he said. “The smaller communities are very excited about that. It’s a great way for them to realize the benefits of the regional options.”

Residents will be welcome to take the survey online, and the link should be available at www.okotoks.ca within the next few weeks.


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