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Transit Task Force explores progressive transit practices from around the world

At c ouncil’s Sept. 10 meeting, we will be discussing the report from the Transit Task Force. Public transit has been debated in Cochrane for many years.

At council’s Sept. 10 meeting, we will be discussing the report from the Transit Task Force.
Public transit has been debated in Cochrane for many years. Since the town was approved for $9 million through the Alberta Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP) in 2011, numerous studies and options have been presented to town council, but nothing has been approved. The GreenTRIP grant for capital funding (one-third municipally funded) must be used by Dec. 31, 2020, so council appointed the Transit Task Force (TTF) this year to consider options for a local transit service. 
The TTF quickly discovered that transit for Cochrane is not a simple yes or no question. It also found there is no standard size or population for local transit — some communities smaller than Cochrane have had transit for years!
The task force was challenged to think creatively – to look at transit around the world, and to consider a range of options. The report coming to council Sept. 10 makes recommendations that considers Cochrane’s unique needs, values and budget.
The TTF recommendation is for on-demand transit with mobility-as-a-service. Basically, this means you will not see a big bus driving around town in a continuous loop. Rather, a smaller vehicle will appear at transit stops when it is requested. When a ride is booked, passengers can also set up their next connection: transfer to regional transport, a taxi or another mode. All bookings are made using a mobile app, website or by phone.
The TTF chose on-demand transit with mobility-as-a-service because of its cost effectiveness and flexibility. And because this form of service can expand or contract with demand and population.
Cochrane’s $9 million in GreenTRIP capital funding must be used specifically for local transit: buses, shelters, land and software must be purchased by Dec. 31, 2020 or the provincial portion ($6 million) is lost. This is why the TTF is recommending a five-year pilot to take advantage of the grant while it exists.
With capital funding covered by the GreenTRIP grant, system operation is the only cost to taxpayers.  The cost of the task force’s recommendation is less than $5 per month for the average Cochrane household.
Transit – whether approved by council or not — will have far-reaching implications and impact the quality of life for all residents, especially our population of seniors and young people who need transportation in one form or another.
I encourage everyone to review the Transit Task Force report and recommendations on letstalkcochrane.ca/Transit.