Transit needs to be put in place

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The future loss of On-it in Okotoks hopefully isn’t a final junking of a bus system, it’s just taking public transportation in for a tune-up. Likely, a major tune-up that could take several years.

High River, Black Diamond, and Turner Valley voted to get off the On-it bus service early. It was a pilot project, which means once it becomes apparent the financial wheels are falling off, it’s time to move on and plan for another attempt in the future.

There has to be a future for public transit in Okotoks. The needs of Black Diamond, Turner Valley and even High River are considerably different than those of Okotoks. This community, though it still calls itself a town, has all the hallmarks of a city as it is near the 30,000 population mark. It is more than double the size of High River and about five times the size of Black Diamond and Turner Valley combined.

With the economy starting to improve and the water pipeline — which almost has mythical status at this point — expected to be announced in the near future, many figure Okotoks is on the cusp of a significant growth spurt.

Public transportation has to be included as part of the growth.

It’s also a good fit for Okotoks’ well deserved high marks for environmental stewardship and sustainability. The Town not having options for the thousands of Okotokians who commute to Calgary just doesn’t fit that model.

At present, the Okotoks community gave the On-it system a resounding ‘no’ with its minimal ridership. The system had its issues — no direct transportation to downtown Calgary, intermittent scheduling for in-town routes. Realistically, public transit is a money-loser, something like pools and recreation centres which make communities better places to live.

Kudos to the region for attempting and learning from the On-it pilot. The lessons learned from the project could help fine tune things for next time.

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