City to implement fourth ICE bus route, purchase new bus
Airdrie Transit riders will soon have more options.
City council voted to purchase a 40-foot, 39-seat bus to allow a fourth regional Intercity Express (ICE) route.
The $460,000 bus will be delivered in late March or early April and will be financed by funds leveraged from the federal gas tax fund.
“For our customers it is going to be a huge benefit,” said Chris MacIsaac, Airdrie’s Transit coordinator.
“We have been running near or at capacity on our trips for many months now. It is going to be a huge relief for our customers, knowing that when they need a bus, they won’t have to stand for 40 minutes. It is a huge win for the service and certainly one that speaks well for the future of regional transit.”
The fourth trip will be implemented next month, providing a second bus to the 901 East Bus Route, which picks up passengers at a number of east Airdrie locations, including the Ron Ebbesen Arena, along southbound East Lake Boulevard and in Sierra Springs.
There will be no increase in service fees.
Because the new bus won’t be ready until late spring, the City will be leasing a 40-foot mechanical spare from First Canada, at a cost of $2,000 per month plus about $50 per hour when the bus is in use, until the new bus is delivered.
MacIsaac said Airdrie transit has a profit of between $2,000 and $3,000 per month, which will allow the service to remain in the black.
“The business model for the service is to break even,” said MacIsaac. “It works best when it is city-owned assets, as it provides more opportunity for us to generate a small profit, versus paying to lease a vehicle.”
MacIsaac said Airdrie’s Transit service will have both urban and articulated buses in the future, adding the biggest demand will likely continue to be service to downtown Calgary.
The City of Airdrie launched the regional ICE service, which provides two-way transit between Airdrie and downtown Calgary during peak weekday mornings and afternoons, in October 2010.
Ridership has steadily increased over the past two years and has now reached capacity on morning inbound trips to Calgary and afternoon outbound trips to Airdrie.
At the May 10 meeting, council approved transit service expansion from three weekday trips to four and the introduction of the current mechanical spare into active service.
According to Chris MacIsaac, of Airdrie’s Transit services department, current service levels are not meeting demand, resulting in lost ridership.
Mayor Peter Brown and Deputy Mayor Murray Buchanan voted against purchasing the new bus.
“There are other uses for the gas tax,” said Brown.
“That (transit) service should not be subsidized by the taxpayers. I am not convinced long-term that multiple types of buses… is the way to go. Any increase in that service should be