COALDALE, AB – It will be a lot easier for car-less residents to get between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat come this spring.
Coaldale’s Manager of Economic and Community Development, Cameron Mills, said plans have been in the works for a while now for a shuttle service between the two municipalities.
He said they’re aiming to have the shuttle in operation by March of this year.
“The program is being spearheaded by the City of Medicine Hat in coordination with some folks at the City of Lethbridge, and then obviously the various municipalities where the route will be stopping,” Mills said on Thursday.
“The plan is (to have) a shuttle between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat stopping at a bunch of these smaller communities. At the outset we’re looking at two stops per day going each direction.”
Mills said to start, the service will operate Monday through Friday, but said weekend service is a possibility, based on future demand.
He said there may even be additional service and stops added if the service proves to be popular.
“The plan for both Medicine Hat and Lethbridge is to make these regional bus services tie into their local transportation network,” Mills said.
“With Lethbridge, it will be an easy access point relative to the city bus main stopping area. The same would be said for Medicine Hat, so that when people get off the bus, they have the ability to get around town.”
Mills added that for the smaller communities, there will be one stop per region.
“In Coaldale, for example, we’re going to be placing our stop at the arena, which is located on Main Street. It’s near our seniors’ lodges. It’s got lots of space for the bus, so it’s a good fit,” he said.
“People can obviously pop in to the arena if it’s cold and wait in the lobby.”
Mills couldn’t yet say which other towns would be a part of the route, but said he believes there will be about 12 communities involved.
He added that a provider for the service has also been found, but could not release the name as contract details are being finalized.
“The goal is to have the service running in the early portion of March,” Mills said.
He added that a website and Facebook page would be set up once the schedule is finalized, so users can plan their route along the corridor.
The plans for the service were first announced last July, after Greyhound Canada cancelled its passenger bus and freight services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All routes were also cancelled in British Columbia, save for one – a U.S.-run service linking Vancouver and Seattle.
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