Blackfalds disappointed by Lacombe's withdrawal from BOLT Transit

BOLT Transit will cease to operate in Lacombe by the end of 2020. City of Lacombe

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Blackfalds town council is “disheartened” by the City of Lacombe’s recent decision to pull out of the BOLT regional transit system.

In a release issued Wednesday, Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole maintained their goal was to continue to grow the service with the City of Lacombe, and with their withdrawal from the service, they’ve created new challenges for the town to try and keep the service going, or find an alternative.

“Blackfalds council has provided a consistent message that [we] wished this service to continue and to grow in order to serve both those who do not have vehicles, as well as those who believe in participating in an environmentally proven alternative,” he said.

“We feel that this message was not shared nor passed on to City of Lacombe residents during the past two years and this has contributed to the failure of this opportunity.”

The Regional Transit Partnership, which would lay the foundation for BOLT, was formed in 2012 between Blackfalds, Lacombe and the City of Red Deer. The goal was to provide public transit service between the two smaller municipalities into Red Deer, while adding local bus service to both Blackfalds and Lacombe.

When Lacombe originally approached Blackfalds to become involved with what would become BOLT, early discussion “clearly indicated that for this to succeed, a 15-20 year period of consistent service would be needed to realize the full return on investment.”

While BOLT’s ridership has fluctuated, there has been an uptake overall in the program. It was aided by the inclusion of Burman University implementing a universal transit pass to allow students to travel between the communities and to the campus on the north end of Lacombe.

A BOLT Survey was also conducted with the majority of the 307 respondents preferring to see more frequent stops and shorter travel times rather than a cancellation of the service. BOLT Survey results can be viewed online at https://www.blackfalds.com/public/download/files/99053.

With the City of Lacombe’s withdrawal from the service, however, future growth and sustainability of the service for Blackfalds residents has now been impacted.

Blackfalds will discuss and review BOLT at a council meeting in the near future, and is promising that a decision on its future will be provided to residents in a timely manner.

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