At the Committee of the Whole meeting on October 31, 2011, members of council discussed the feasibility of public transit in the Drumheller Valley.
The closest notion of public transportation in the Valley at the moment is the Valley Bus, a non profit society mandated to help transport the elderly and disabled. The bus, rather than having routes, is dispatched directly to users who request transportation.
Plans to implement public transit in Drumheller have remained in park for some time. However, the Town of Drumheller is shifting gears.
Town administration is in the process of fine tuning a survey to be sent out to Valley residents to determine if and what services residents would desire from any public transit service.
“Whether there are enough people who would use it, that’s what we don’t know,” said Councillor Tom Zariski. “We encourage everyone to take part in the survey.”
The initial plan would be to have two routes. One would run between Nacmine and downtown Drumheller. The second would travel between Midland and downtown. There would be a number of stops along the way for each route. However, other routes would be considered.
“Depending on the survey results we may have a route to East Coulee,” said Zariski. “We need input from residents to give us direction.”
The aim of the public transit service would be to accommodate people who are limited in their ability to travel by not having access to a vehicle. At this point, the proposed service would not be a replacement for a daily commute.
“The transportation routes we have planned are probably not conducive for people going to and from work,” said Zariski. “It’s more for people who want to go downtown occasionally and if they don’t have a vehicle they can plan their schedule around the routes.”
Another aspect of the public transit service would be to accommodate tourists. Routes could be schedule between hotels and tourist attractions. Getting tourists on board could alleviate parking problems during the busy weekends and help subsidize the service.
There would be a few job opportunities, depending on how widespread public transit becomes. Drivers, mechanics, cleaners, and more would be needed to keep things operating smoothly.
Fees for bus use have not been discussed as of yet, but one thing is certain, taxpayers would foot some of the bill.
During the Committee of the Whole meeting the question was raised as to whether the proposed service would be run by the Valley Bus Society. Council members felt that the Town should lead efforts.
“The Valley Bus Society has been effective for many years,” said Zariski. “But, it’s mandate is to transport seniors and disabled persons.”
Were public transportation given the green light, it would not replace the Valley Bus. The Valley Bus service would continue to run.
As of this time, public transit in Drumheller is only in the research phase and the plans mentioned herein are subject to the desires of residents. The Town of Drumheller will soon be sending out surveys and any input could shape the route public transit takes in the future.