Regional bus service no longer available in Carstairs
Town officials say it's because of a lack of interest
Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016 06:00 am
Carstairs residents are no longer able to access the Rocky View Regional Handibus for rides to surrounding communities.
After two years of having the service available in Carstairs, town officials recently decided not to provide funding for the service anymore in 2016.
“The ridership wasn’t there to justify the costs that were being incurred by having it available,” said Carl McDonnell, chief administrative officer for the town.
He said the town was paying a per capita cost totalling $20,000 a year, plus an additional cost for the bus to come to town and pick up people.
The service is based out of Airdrie and is also available in Rocky View County, Crossfield, Irricana, Beiseker, Cochrane and Chestermere, according to Paul Siller, executive director for the organization.
He said it’s an on-demand service for people who can’t drive to places like Airdrie and Calgary, but need help getting groceries or getting to medical appointments.
Passengers pay about $4 for every 10 kilometres. He said the funds from the municipalities cover 75 per cent of the operating costs.
There are about 40 active passengers who have been using the service in Carstairs for the last two years. He said it has been slow lately, but it usually comes in waves.
He received the letter from the Town of Carstairs in December.
“We’re going to do our best to honour any bookings that are still in the system or deal with whatever happens over the next four to six weeks, but once we’ve gone past that, we don’t have the resources to extend service outside our service zone,” said Siller.
“My concern is just making sure that people know the service is discontinuing.”
The town also used to pay for the organization to provide rides for residents to get to and from local businesses in town on Thursdays.
The service was referred to as the rounder bus, but it was discontinued last summer, also because of a lack of interest.
Siller said it’s difficult to keep municipalities on board because it’s a small portion of residents who benefit from the service.
“But really, the families benefit too,” he said.
“We want people to know that we’re sorry. We’ve really enjoyed working with Carstairs residents, but without funding from the town, we’re not able to continue operations in Carstairs.”
McDonnell said there is a volunteer driver program in town and if people need rides to surrounding communities they are asked to contact the town office where they will be connected with the resources available.