Okotoks residents will soon be able to access on-demand transit as Council approved the Local Transit Implementation Plan at the February 11 meeting. The Town is targeting early fall to launch this new service.
“This is very exciting for our community,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “Residents have consistently indicated that providing in-town transit is a priority and an on-demand service offers the best model for Okotoks. Instead of investing in infrastructure, we are investing in customer experience that meets the needs of our residents.”
The Town’s on-demand transit will provide a customer-first mobility service, enabling all residents and visitors to move around Okotoks without relying on a personal vehicle. Users will be able to book service through an online app or over the phone and receive curb-to-curb transportation within the town’s boundary. The app will provide estimated wait times and passengers will only have to go to the curb in front of their location to be picked up.
Funding from the provincial GreenTRIP program will cover two-thirds of the Town’s cost to purchase vehicles to run the service. These will likely be small vans or shuttles that are more fuel efficient than standard buses.
The implementation plan recommends that it be a no cash service on the vehicles so riders would purchase tickets electronically, through the app, by phone or in person at identified locations. It also proposes that initial fares be set at $2.75 for all riders older than five years.
“Through our public participation with residents, we learned that they preferred to keep the price below $3,” said Colin Gainer, senior planner for the Town. “The approved fee is affordable while designed to help offset operation costs.”
Because the service is flexible, the Town can adjust it as needed based on regular evaluations, which will ensure that customer experience and cost efficiency are maximized. Currently, operating costs are estimated between $600,000 – $700,000 and will be finalized once the service is established.
With growing congestion and GHG emissions generated from single-occupancy vehicles, transit has become increasingly important to municipalities throughout North America. Several communities are considering some form of on-demand transit system as it provides greater access to all residents and can be more cost efficient than a traditional set-route system, especially for small to medium-sized communities.
The Town also explored the feasibility of an autonomous vehicle as part of the transit system in the future.
The Town will share more information about the service and how it works in the coming months. Go to Okotoks.ca/transit for details.