Bye bye bus: On-It regional transit dead
Calgary Regional Partnership bus pilot cut short as stakeholders unable to continue service without funding
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On-it is off. The regional transit system is calling it quits halfway through its two-year pilot.
The On-it Regional Transit system that was set up to serve passengers from Black Diamond, High River, Okotoks and Turner Valley connecting riders to Calgary’s transit system is shutting down on March 1.
As the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) fizzles and the mandatory legislated Calgary Growth Management Board emerges the two groups’ vastly different mandates as well as lack of sustainable ridership are putting the CRP-run pilot on the chopping block.
Sharlene Brown, CAO of Black Diamond, said without funding from the CRP to subsidize the program it became unsustainable for their municipality.
“You would need the ridership to be able to ensure it could be properly funded,” Brown said. “Because there was not a lot of uptake from our community, that was part of the reason we pulled out. We wouldn’t be able to manage continuing on with the program based on the ridership if there was no support.”
According to government documents, the Calgary Metropolitan Growth Management Board’s mandate is to encourage the environmentally friendly and efficient use of land while developing policies regarding the coordination of regional infrastructure and service investments.
CRP Regional Transit Program Manager Ettore Iannacito said operating a regional transit system falls outside of that scope.
“They’re not going to be involved in any type of operations, they’re not an operational body,” Ettore said. “The On-it program, for now, is going to wind down.”
Ettore said the pilot would have run until Oct. 5, 2018. After the first year they adjusted the level of service to meet up with demand by taking a bus out of service.
“All in all I think the pilot was successful,” Ettore said. “We thought it was headed on the right track, if this thing was going to keep running we would have looked at making those changes and in years three, four and five we would have looked into bringing on other municipalities.”
According to the provincial government’s transportation department, they’re committed to growing public transportation across the province, including rural Alberta and across the Calgary Region.