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City may change ICE route to help downtown commuters

Due to the closure of a private downtown express bus, the City of Airdrie may change its Inner City Express (ICE) bus route, scheduled to be up and running in September.

Due to the closure of a private downtown express bus, the City of Airdrie may change its Inner City Express (ICE) bus route, scheduled to be up and running in September.

“We are proposing two downtown express services, one from the east side and one from the west side,” said Chris MacIssac, transit marketing coordinator for the City.

“This decision was made based on First Canada’s announcement to end their downtown service and from feedback received from current commuters. We will be recommending to City council that our two earliest a.m. departures for Calgary be a downtown express service similar to the route currently operated by First Canada.”

MacIssac said the estimated travel time to downtown Calgary will be similar to the existing service. The issue will come before council Aug. 3.

The original ICE route would have included three articulated buses integrated with the City of Calgary’s transit system, stopping at numerous sites on Centre Street and then continuing on to downtown.

Airdrie resident Dan Keating’s wife used First Canada’s commuter service for years. Keating has been working with the City to change the ICE route since he found out First Canada would be closing its doors on Sept. 1.

“I am happy to see the City is listening to the people that live in Airdrie,” he said.

“If I didn’t come forward with this, I don’t think anything would have got done. At the end of the day, what they have to look at is the fact that a huge percentage of people are not working in Airdrie and they need a effective and efficient way to get to work in Calgary.”

Keating said his wife took a job downtown because she knew she could get there in a reasonable time with First Canada’s commuter.

“Before that, it was taking her two to three hours to get home and it wasn’t fair to her family,” he said.

“When we found out the new service (original ICE route) would take her just as long or longer, I knew we had to do something to stop that.”

The change will have an impact on the afternoon departures from downtown Calgary. The new routes would operate on a direct return to Airdrie with pick-ups in downtown Calgary only.

The proposed changes include ICE pick-ups on 8th Street.

“The recommendation to City council will be using 8th Street, replacing the Main Street route, as the direct downtown express to Calgary,” said MacIssac.

“Airdrie Transit will continue to evolve and grow with our community. We recognize the loss of First Canada’s service will put a potential strain on our existing rider capacity for the commuter services into Calgary.”

Keating said he is glad the City took 8th Street into consideration.

“Most of the people on the west side are in the Stonegate, Woodside, Canals areas and it didn’t make sense to run the route down Main Street,” he said.

“People don’t want to drive their cars to take a bus.”

MacIssac said the City is taking the opinions of the residents into consideration and planning for the future.

“We will ensure, prior to the service launching in September, buses are available for any access capacity beyond our existing fleet. We have calculated our long-term growth as a commuter service provider and will be offering additionally scheduled routes into Calgary throughout the day in the future.”

The final morning departure from Airdrie to Calgary on will run on the originally scheduled route down Centre Street with limited stops before reaching downtown Calgary.

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Airdrie City View Staff

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