February 11, 2019
On-Demand Transit coming to Okotoks
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.
October 9, 2018
Upcoming Transit Pop-Up Events Scheduled
To kick off phase 2 of public participation for the proposed transit plan, the Town will be hosting pop-up events around town on October 24 and 25 to showcase the proposed transit plan and to gather more feedback from residents for any final tweaks before the plan is presented to Council.
The schedule of locations and times can be found at www.okotoks.ca/localtransit, along with the link to an online survey that will run from October 23 to November 6.
Using community input received at previous events and an online survey, the Town has created a proposed transit plan based on an “on-demand” system with small format transit vehicles. The proposed system, which is slated to begin service next year, has one more opportunity for public input before going to Council in December.
“As our community has grown over the past decade, the need for a local transit option has become more and more apparent,” says Colin Gainer, Senior Planner. “By providing an alternative to personal vehicles, many of our residents will finally have the freedom to move around town on their own schedules. This new system should also ease parking congestion over time at several popular destinations around town and will help to reduce our overall carbon footprint.”
Michelle Orfield, a Smart Mobility and Transit Planning consultant with Stantec Consulting Ltd., agrees. “Okotoks is continuing its long tradition of using innovative approaches to create a perfect fit solution for Okotoks. The proposed local transit plan reflects what we've heard from residents: a desire for smaller, clean vehicles; a service that is convenient and easy to use; and an exciting opportunity to test self-driving shuttles.”
The proposed transit plan will be delivered to Town Council at their regular meeting on December 10, and if approved, will start being put into effect in early 2019.
Town seeks public input on development of Local Transit Implementation Plan
The Town of Okotoks is working with Stantec Consulting Ltd. on two studies that will shape how residents move around town in the near and distant future.
These linked studies on local public transit opportunities and self-driving shuttles will explore evolving transit systems and result in a Local Transit Implementation Plan that will provide another transportation option for Okotoks’ growing community. Transit service delivery is expected in 2019.
“The demand for transit within the community has been steadily increasing over the past few years,” says Colin Gainer, senior planner with the Town of Okotoks. “What this system looks like, however, will need to be determined based on community input received over the coming months. With a better understanding of the connections that residents and visitors would like between places around town, a transit service can be designed specifically for Okotoks.”
The Local Transit Implementation Plan process will be divided into two main phases: Phase 1—Listen is focused on getting resident input on the challenges and opportunities for a local transit system. Phase 2—Did we hear you? coming later this year, will showcase what was heard from the community and how it shaped the draft plan.
The project team will be sharing information and gathering input at the Okotoks Dawgs game on June 6, 7 p.m., and at the Okotoks Recreation Centre foyer on June 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For more information on public participation opportunities and project updates, please visit www.okotoks.ca/localtransit.