Saturday, March 25, 2017

Town of Pincher Creek holds Transportation open house

Town councillors Lorne Jackson, Doug Thornton, and Jim Litkowski, CAO Laurie Wilgosh, Mayor Don Anderberg

Toni Lucas - Approximately 40 people attended a Town of Pincher Creek transportation open house on Wednesday, March 15. The main speaker was HDR Inc. Associate Vice President John Hubbell a consultant who specializes in public transportation.  Along with a presentation there was a question and answer period with members of Town council, CAO Laurie Wilgosh, and Hubbell.

Some of the points discussed were what public transportation services are currently available in Pincher Creek, medically at risk drivers, accessibility, the recent awarding of $303,333 GreenTRIP funding to the Town of Pincher Creek, Medically at Risk Drivers (MARD), the regional non-ambulance transfer (NAT) van, concerns over costs, the current 2.4 kilometre walking distance boundary for school children, citizens who use walking or cycling, and routes and times for future public transportation.

Hubbell said the idea is how to develop a financially sustainable transportation model. "One of the ways you build sustainability is being really realistic up front, and just looking at the prime needs, not the nice-to-haves."  He later explained the operating costs of one bus eight hours a day weekdays would be approximately $160,000 per year.  He discussed possible ways to allocate bus resources.  A dedicated route or a call-on-demand service were two examples given. "Don't think that just because you are putting a bus route in that's going to solve everybody's accessibilities issues.  It won't." He explained this and  every community needs multiple solutions to fully address the issue of transportation,

Transportation consultant John Hubbell
The presentation explained taht most Alberta communities are dealing with a varied demographic including many who either do not or should not drive, including children going to school, persons with disabilities, people who have been identified either temporarily or permanently by the medical community as at-risk drivers, those who do not own a vehicle, and senior citizens. One of the big concerns is an overall aging demographic.  All communities are facing transportation concerns. He discussed the idea of keeping people in their own home for as long as possible yet allowing them a healthy and mobile lifestyle as part of the community. 

The transportation committee has identified some concerns and goals for the citizens in the area:
  • Provide a non-ambulance transfer service for medically stable patients, between healthcare facilities in the Town of Pincher Creek, Town of Fort Macleod, and other major urban centres, such as Lethbridge and Calgary.
  • Provide inter-community transportation between the Town of Pincher Creek, Town of Fort Macleod, and other major urban centres, such as Lethbridge and Calgary.
  • Provide a regularly scheduled transit service within the Town of Pincher Creek.
  • Provide a transportation option for school aged children in the Town of Pincher Creek, who live within the 2.4 km school boundary.
  • Provide an accessible door-to-door on-demand transportation option for seniors and people with limited mobility within the Town of Pincher Creek.
Hubbell suggests the town develop a not-for-profit transportation society which would work at arms length with the Town of Pincher Creek.  "It would kind of be an umbrella  organization that would take ongoing responsibility for these transportation services in the community."  This organization could develop a funding model for both capital and operating costs.

Hubbell suggested the existing Transportation Committee should:

  • Continue with regular meetings of the Transportation Steering Committee (TSC)
  • Identify the administrative support resources required to sustain transportation initiatives and consider hiring a Transport Coordinator
  • Request FCSS to host a “Community Transportation Forum” to initiate community discussion of transportation service needs and coordination
  • Develop a consolidated online and print source for all passenger transport information including regional transportation, Handi Bus service, regular taxi services, carpool / ridesharing and volunteer driver pool, etc

Regarding student transportation Hubbell said the committee should "Calculate the 1.6km walk distance from each school in Pincher Creek to understand the extent of the community that is beyond reasonable walk distance to school," and "Initiate discussions with the Livingstone Range School Division to develop a service and funding methodology to provide student transport between the current 2.4km walk distance and a 1.6km walk distance to school." 

He also recommended a Pincher Creek Taxi Bylaw be prepared "that includes driver standards, mechanical vehicle fitness, and the requirement for (some) accessible taxis."

Town Administration said the HDR Inc.  was awarded the contract  for $27,000 by Town Council to effect a transportation study.

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