Calgary

Cochrane preps on-demand transit service with connections to Calgary

Students, seniors and workers in Cochrane, Alta., will be able to take public transit throughout their community and into Calgary starting next fall.

Passengers will be able to order bus ride in time for appointments, work, school

Cochrane, nestled between Calgary and the Rocky Mountains, is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Students, seniors and workers in Cochrane, Alta., will be able to take public transit throughout their community and into Calgary starting next fall.

The town's council recently approved an on-demand transit system. Passengers will be able to order a bus to come to their stop, rather than wait for a traditional fixed-route bus that goes stop to stop.

The transit service will run throughout Cochrane but also ferry people from the town to various spots in Calgary, including the Crowfoot LRT station.

"We've heard from a lot of students that, 'I'd like to stay at home and also study, but it's the quite the commute and it's expensive to do by car,'' Cochrane transit analyst Devin LaFleche said. "So having that option is really great for them."

Students will be able to connect from Cochrane Transit via the C-Train network to SAIT or the University of Calgary, for example.

Growing town, busy people

Cochrane, which sits between the Rocky Mountains and Calgary, is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, Statistics Canada data shows.

In five years, the town's population jumped 47.1 per cent. As of 2016, the town was home to 25,289 people.

The town studied the idea of adding transit service and estimated an expected annual average ridership of 52,976.

With no bus service in Cochrane, Alta., residents struggled to get to jobs and activities, including post-secondary institutions in the nearby city of Calgary. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

To get picked up by the bus, riders will use a mobile app, online service or phone system to request a bus. So, for example, you could put in your preferred arrival time and the service would build a route around that request and others.

LaFleche said he expects the service to be popular with families and seniors, as well.

"There are people who have limited mobility, seniors, low-income families," LaFleche said. "But also, we heard a lot from families that, 'Hey, it's hard for our kids to get around in the community. They are old enough to be riding the bus. They'd like to get a part-time job. I don't want to be a chauffeur.'"

The cost will be $2.50 per adult passenger one way. However, when the on-demand buses stars running as scheduled next September, passengers will be able to try the service for free for two months.

Passengers will be able to pay fares in cash or on the mobile app when booking. The transit authority is also looking at rolling out reloadable transit fare cards.

Many of the details are still being ironed out. The transit authority is entering into contract negotiations with Southland Transportation to run the service. The authority also must put out a tender for capital expenses around building bus stops and a transit hub.

Southland Transportation also runs Calgary's regional transit service.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.

With files from Brooks Decillia

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