Campbell station transit's highest priority
Future buses could feature wifi, Smart Card payment
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
St. Albert’s transit system of the future could see peace officers at transit stations and on buses, free Wi-Fi Internet access for riders and giving buses priority right of way on certain roads.
Council on Monday endorsed St. Albert Transit’s long-term plan, designed to spell out the possible changes to the department between 2013 and 2027.
While a draft had gone to council late last year, the final report included suggestions and changes from members of the public.
Perhaps the biggest nugget of information that came out of the report’s presentation was the new name for the proposed south park and ride.
Will Steblyk, transit’s manager of planning and customer service, said it will now be called the Campbell Road Transit Station and Park and Ride. Up until this year Edmonton and St. Albert, who will share the land on which the facility will be built, had each used a different name for it.
“That is our highest principle priority,” said Steblyk, referring to construction of the approximately $30-million transit station. “And with it comes a local group restructure.”
Part of that restructuring will include redrawing all bus routes when the station is operational, as Village Landing will no longer be used as a park and ride. Transit also wants to examine schedule times to ensure they are more reliable.
But there will need to be capital upgrades as well, according to Steblyk and Bob McDonald. The fleet’s garage space is at maximum capacity, and if the city continues to expand its size, it will need more buses.
“If we grow as a system we will need to expand that facility to accommodate more buses,” Steblyk said.
The plan also contemplates giving buses priority transit signals to make transit faster on busy roads. Possible future plans also include hiring peace officers to patrol at the Campbell station and on St. Albert Transit vehicles, as well as making buses more appealing than vehicles by offering services such as Wi-Fi Internet access.
Other priorities include continued investments in surveillance equipment and training for drivers, as well as making trip planning on a local and regional basis more interactive. The proposed Smart Card system is also high on the priority list, as the Capital region as a whole is working on a way for riders to use a card, like a debit card for transit, to pay for fares.
“If you approve this plan, then we can begin the process of addressing those priorities and growing our ridership and making transit a convenient alternative to the automobile,” Steblyk said.
Missing from the plan was any direct reference to a proposed LRT line through St. Albert. Council approved during budget deliberations last year a functional alignment study that would explore how and where an LRT line would run through the city. The line would be an extension of Edmonton’s proposed northwest line.
“Based on discussions with Edmonton, the northwest LRT could be at the Campbell terminal station … the earliest is about 15 years,” said Bob McDonald, director of transit. He said that time frame falls outside the long-term plan’s 15-year window.
Implementing the recommendations from last year’s handibus review is also a priority, McDonald said, with the department purchasing new buses and hiring a trip co-ordinator in preparation to begin regular trips into Edmonton.
“I think what we’re doing is implementing the rest of the handibus report and based on the early returns, we would revise this for future years,” McDonald said.