Arthur Unrau took his first ride on a Cold Lake bus yesterday.
He is partially disabled and normally does not use transit, but because of the new accessibility ramps the two new buses are equipt with, he can take his walker with him and not have to worry.
“I can save money on cab rides and stuff,” Unrau said.
Cold Lake unveiled their two new buses before it went for its first ride yesterday afternoon at the Tri-City Mall Transit Station. They will replace the old fleet which will sit and only be used when needed.
“It was a great deal,” said Mayor Craig Copeland. “We only paid 33 per cent of the money for the buses the rest came from the province and the federal government. The staff did a great job getting the grants.”
Each has 35 seats, or space for 29 seats and two wheelchairs. The accessibility ramps being one of the key differences.
Currently, transit is free in Cold Lake but that may change as the subject will come up with council soon. It costs the city $900,000 to operate transit as a scheduled deficit. In comparison, the city has planned deficits of $4-5 Million in recreation.
“Council has said if we can justify that sort of deficit for recreation, why can’t we justify it for transit? That’s why it’s free right now,” said Copeland.
“We’ll just look at whether we want to charge a loonie or a toonie. Right now having it be free makes it very easy for parents to put their kids on transit. You’d be surprised but a lot of ridership is under 16 years old. A family of four comes on the bus, if it’s going to be a toonie, that could be eight dollars one way.”
The City may also be looking at a faster route north and south.
“We just interviewed a lot of people, surveyed a lot of people who ride the bus. We’ll see what they are saying, and maybe we’ll tweak it a bit.”
Cold Lake first got public transit in 2015.