The Calgary Regional Partnership should find a way to keep the On-It bus service to Banff rolling after the Labour Day weekend.
As the Calgary region’s population grows, it will be essential to ease pressure on highways and roads in the mountain parks and helping to protect the qualities that have attracted people to the area for more than a century.
The weekend service includes a route which starts in Okotoks and passes through Calgary, Cochrane and Canmore before ending in Banff and a second, express route between Calgary and Banff.
According to the CRP’s regional transit boss, the service has been a success since it was launched in June, with ridership exceeding expectations after two months. It’s slated to wrap up on Sept. 4 and there are no plans for it to continue, though it could return next year.
Public transit connections to the mountain parks are becoming an essential service as Banff and the parks attract ever more visitors and vehicles each year. Waterton National Park recently shut its gates for a brief period after Parks Canada officials determined the park was at capacity.
A bus service, such as the CRP’s On-It program, can help to ease pressure on roads in Banff, giving people the option to leave their cars at home. It also makes the parks accessible for people who don’t have a vehicle of their own.
The CRP’s plans now are to assess the service and come up with a plan for what it could look like if it returns next year. There’s a lot to look at, if it is to continue.
However, Okotoks mayor, and CRP chairman, Bill Robertson said he would support extending the service through the fall if there is a business case to do so. It’s worth taking a look.
This summer’s On-It service was a good start, it’s worth seeing what it would take to keep it going.