Lethbridge City Council has lots to consider when it comes to transit.
On Monday, (Apr. 27), Council’s Community Issues Committee received an operational Transit Review which was conducted by KPMG.
The review shows Lethbridge has a higher service intensity, relative to other mid-sized Canadian cities.
Tony Vanden Heuvel, Lethbridge’s Community Services Director says that also results in higher operating costs. “71% of the cost of operating transit resides in wages and benefits. Transit is subsidized approximately, almost $11 million dollars on an operating basis.”
He suggested the City of Lethbridge could save money on transit by looking at a number of different scenarios. Those range from ending transit service earlier in the evenings or even having less buses on the road at any one given time.
Vanden Heuvel says on average, the cost of having one bus and one driver on the road is roughly $100 an hour.
Councillors were also told Monday the City is looking to make on-demand transit as permanent service going forward. Transit-on-demand actually started earlier this month to help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transit Manager Scott Grieco says on-demand would provide public transportation opportunities to increase ridership and allows for the expansion of service area coverage. “This essentially uses technology. It’s primarily an app-based technology to book rides and it reduces administrative redundancies by using an algorithm in real-time to schedule buses.”
Meanwhile, Council was told the transition away from city-provided school busing is well underway as well. The City of Lethbridge decals are being removed from the sides of school buses. The more than 50 year agreement between the City and Lethbridge school districts for busing will end in June of 2021.
When it comes to Access-A-Ride, only certain categories of users may be allowed to use the service in the future, if Council decides.
The recommendation for Access-A-Ride going forward includes:
• Setting eligibility requirements with a tier system
• Contracting a professional contractor to determine eligibility
• Engage with Alberta Health Services, programs, facilities, and school boards in regard to sharing the responsibility of transportation