Airdrie City staff reduced the InterCity Express (ICE) bus fare from $8 to $5 Dec. 1 after deciding to reduce prices to reflect other carriers.
Chris MacIsaac with the City of Airdrie said the $8 fee was based on research supplied by Calgary Transit. But after Airdrie residents informed the City its rates were higher than others, a study examined regional carriers and new rates were established.
“We did a price comparison across the country,” said MacIsaac, transit coordinator with the City. “Our commuter fare was pretty high. I think we were one of the highest in Canada.”
MacIsaac said Airdrie brought its prices in line and now has fares that are comparable to Strathcona County, Leduc and St. Albert.
Now, a one-way trip is $5 and a book of 10 tickets is $45. A monthly pass will cost adults $147 and students, youth and seniors will pay $117.
Ridership has increased from 20 riders per day when service began, Oct. 4 to 50 people, according to MacIsaac.
Former mayoral candidate Ross Mann said he’s glad the price is lower but questions what the drop really means and doubts ICE is generating money.
“If the price is being reduced, who’s footing the bill?” he asked. “Disclose the numbers, let us see and let us see the actual cost per head. I see (the buses) in Airdrie and Calgary and I don’t see a lot of heads in the seats.”
Last week, 22-year-old David Jensen rode the ICE bus for four days after his car broke down but says he won’t make it a habit.
Jensen drives from Airdrie, parks in a northwest lot in Calgary and takes Calgary Transit service where he pays $85 for a monthly pass.
He said he will currently continue his commuting method but would consider ICE in the future after the price change.
“It wasn’t too bad, it kind of saved my ass,” said Jensen. “The bus is nice, drivers were friendly and it takes about the same time (as driving).”
Mann encouraged the private sector to compete for transit contracts.
“It appears no one wants to use (ICE) and there are private companies that want this business,” he said.
Despite criticism, MacIsaac is confident numbers will rise.
“Every week, it goes up a little bit more,” said MacIsaac. “Winter weather has certainly played a part in higher ridership.”
The ICE buses have two routes running between Airdrie and Calgary.
For more information, visit www.airdrie.ca