Transit plan open to debate
Potential open house with Edmonton in the works
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 06:00 am
What St. Albert Transit (StAT) looks like over the next 15 years will be shaped by residents who share their thoughts on the draft long-term plan that will be available for review for the next 60 days.
On Monday Transit director Bob McDonald gave city council a bare-bones overview of the report, which was approved in the 2012 budget. The document, intended to guide decisions for the next 15 years, covers both conventional transit and handibus service.
“We want this plan to be a way to go into the future,” McDonald told councillors.
The plan has been posted on StAT’s website at www.ridestat.ca. Anyone who so desires can call the department at 780-418-6060 for a hard copy. Comments can be emailed to email@example.com. The plan will be available for comment until Nov. 17.
Suggestions may be incorporated into the plan for its final presentation to city council on Feb. 6, 2013.
“We appreciate all those comments and depending on what kind and how many comments, it can make it easy to incorporate those suggestions,” McDonald said.
No open house has yet been scheduled but McDonald told council he is trying to arrange an event for later in the winter in which both the plan, the proposed south transit park and ride and the northwest LRT functional alignment study can be discussed.
The city is waiting to hear back from the province on a lease proposal for the south park and ride, which the draft plan sees as a significant opportunity, combined with the possible extension of the northwest LRT line to the park and ride. The plan contemplates significant changes to nearly all of St. Albert’s residential routes, and a demand for more buses once the park and ride is up and running, McDonald said.
The need for the facility, he added, is becoming critical.
“It would, to some extent, relieve the park and ride congestion and constrictions on our market,” McDonald said. “I think we are limiting our potential without having more park and ride opportunities.”
A bigger park and ride would also mean a need for more buses, which would require somewhere to store those buses. As it is widely expected the LRT extension to the park and ride will happen in the medium-term, and fewer buses will then be required once the LRT line arrives, how the city deals with that short-term increase in bus volume also needs to be looked at, said McDonald. The department favours expanding the current garage facility instead of building a new satellite garage in order to keep costs down, according to the report.
Revenue will also be a challenge in the years to come, the plan states. It predicts growth in St. Albert will top out at 1.4 per cent over the next 15 years, adding approximately 15,000 residents, meaning additional riders and revenues will be limited.
Some councillors questioned the growth rate, but McDonald believes it is consistent with other city predictions.
“This process gives council the chance to delve into the operations and revenue side of transit,” said McDonald.