Original Published on Jun 22, 2022 at 11:20
By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After a three-year hiatus, the wheels on the Pincher Creek bus are once again set to go round and round all through the town.
The Town of Pincher Creek has reached an agreement with the Pincher Creek Foundation to provide free transportation for residents at Crestview Lodge, Canyon Manor and Cottages, Willow Court Cottages and the general public.
While the town retains ownership of the bus, the foundation is taking over its operation and associated costs.
The agreement is a cost-effective measure, as Crestview Lodge was in need of a new vehicle for residents and the bus was simply sitting in town storage.
The bus was initially purchased by the town back in 2018 through the provincial government’s Green Trip Grant and Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, though service was discontinued the following year due to a lack of riders.
Coun. Wayne Oliver, chairman of the Pincher Creek Foundation board, says the bus provides an important resource to improve senior residents’ quality of life as pandemic health restrictions come to an end.
“As we come out of Covid lockdowns, having safe and reliable transportation for the residents of Crestview Lodge will improve their quality of life,” he adds. “They can make trips around and they’ll have a bus with great heating and air conditioning that’s wheelchair-accessible.”
Along with the foundation, the town has also had discussions with regional partners about how the bus could be used to address transportation challenges in the area, though those talks are ongoing.
A schedule is still being finalized, but the bus will hit the road a few times each week with stops at Crestview, Canyon Manor and local retailers like Ranchland Mall and Walmart; a downtown location is also being determined. Rider bus shelters are currently in storage but will soon be placed along the route.
Once complete, the schedule will be published on the town’s website and social media platforms.
On top of helping residents get around town, the bus also opens the door for out-of-town adventures, says Crestview manager Stacy Kyllo.
“For our residents it opens out-of-town trips, say to Waterton and the Crowsnest Pass, which we couldn’t do before because we didn’t have air conditioning,” she explains.
The lodge currently has one designated driver but plans on sending a call out for volunteer drivers to help. Working with other senior centres in town to make the bus a community resource, Kyllo adds, is something she’d like to see happen.
“Everyone does their own thing, but hopefully things can open up and we can co-operate in the future,” she says.
“It is going to be great to see the bus back on the road and serving residents of our community,” said Mayor Don Anderberg during the June 14 announcement.
“Thank you to the board at the Pincher Creek Foundation for your work creating this partnership, and I hope that the Crestview and Canyon Manor residents, as well as the public, utilize and enjoy this new service.”
The agreement between the town and the foundation is for one year, though should the venture prove successful it can be renewed for up to five years.
This item reprinted with permission from Shootin’ the Breeze, Pincher Creek, Alberta