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Calgary Region’s new regional transit system: On-It or Love-It?

On-It ribbon cutting Okotoks

By Richard White, Guest Contributor

Calgary Region’s newest transit service (launching October 11th) called ON-IT could easily be called “LOVE-It.

Why?

Because, by all accounts, everyone loves the idea of piloting a regional bus service allowing people in High River, Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Okotoks to get to and from Somerset-Bridlewood LRT station in the morning and evening on weekdays.

The Mayors “Love It,” Councillors love it and over 2,500 citizens in those communities have signed up for more information and updates.

And it’s not just commuters who are interested – so are post-secondary students and seniors.

At the On-It preview on Monday October 3rd (which I was invited to) citizen Maureen Nelson enthusiastically grabbed a handful of information cards to take back to the High Country Lodge in Black Diamond.

She was certain many of the seniors living there would love taking transit to Calgary for day trips.

Many residents don’t like driving in Calgary or parking….this is perfect.” In chatting with several other residents the On-It preview, there was a common theme – “driving and parking in Calgary is no fun.”

 

Visionary…

On-It font of bus

On-It is a visionary, innovative partnership between Black Diamond, High River, Okotoks Turner Valley and the Calgary Regional Partnership.

It’s a two-year pilot project that does not replace private express buses currently operating between High River, Okotoks and downtown Calgary.

But rather is the beginning of a regional public transit system.

On-It ribbon cutting in High River

The On-It buses won’t go downtown but rather to the City’s southernmost LRT station where riders can access the Calgary Transit system.

Currently, the service is designed to serve the 60,000 people living in the Calgary Region’s southern edge.

It’s designed to grow with the Region, whose population is projected to reach almost 3 million in 2073. Okotoks alone could have 90,000 people in 50 years.

As well, Strathmore and Chestermere are working together to be ready when the pilot is completed to launch their own regional transit service in 2018, with its link being to the new 17th Ave SE Bus Rapid Transit.

This is long-range thinking…

 

Experimental…

on-it-launch-turner-valley2

Over two years of regional transit research preceded the two-year pilot, information gathered and lessons learned was then applied to the Calgary Region.

The best routes, stops, fares and size of buses are then determined for the pilot.

High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass loves the pilot concept saying, “surveys can be misleading as people might say they want a commuter bus, but then don’t use it. This way we will have empirical data on who is using the service and how often. This will allow us to experiment with changes as we gather new information and make educated decisions going forward.”

Calgary’s Southland Transportation Ltd. was the chosen service provider for the pilot based on their extensive experience providing unique and specialized bus services in many communities in Alberta and British Columbia.

Don’t be alarmed! On-It will not be using rickety old school buses, but rather 55-seat motor coaches typically used by travel tour operators, which means you will travel in climate-controlled, luxury with comfy seats and an on-board washroom.

On-It inside the bus

On-It will also result is less pollution and expected to free up coveted park and ride spots for Calgarians . Woo-hoo!

 

Last Word

on-it black diamond launch

You gotta love On-It’s slogan – “the best commutes include a nap!” With a slogan like that, how can it not succeed?

I am going to be very interested to see how this pilot evolves.

Want more details?  Visit our “Meet On-It” and “Ride with Us” pages.

Check out more picture from our October 3 On-It launch day:

On-It official launch October 2016

 

Find out more

Get the latest news and updates on the new regional transit system (fares, routes, key dates, etc…) right to your inbox!

Get On-it updates

 

5 Comments

  1. Peter McGuigan says:

    I was disappointed to find out that the service does not offer people living in Calgary and working in High River to have the opportunity to take the morning bus to High River and the return bus back to Calgary in the late afternoon. This reverse route would have been a great opportunity to have people in Calgary come to High River for the day to visit, shop and enjoy the community.

    • On-It says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Great question! There is already a private service that Southland Transporation offers that goes straight downtown Calgary. This is a two year pilot with the hope that it’s success will increase frequency, add more routes and more of the region. We are monitoring the demand for other routes so will record and monitor all requests. Thank you for your feedback. Please feel free to email us at onit@calgaryregion.ca with your preferred schedule.

  2. Patrick McMann says:

    How come only to the Ctrain I think you should be going straight Downtown Calgary, trains are pack enough as it is

  3. Chris Jarvis says:

    Are the U-passes University students have already paid for valid to ride the “On-it” system? Or are they required to pay again??

    • On-It says:

      Hi Chris,
      Unfortunately, the U-Pass is not valid to ride on the on-it system. Typically, the cost of the pass year takes into account revenues for the service providers that participate in the U-Pass program. At this point in time, On-It is not part of the program. We do however have deeply discounted monthly passes for sale. If you are travelling between Okotoks and Calgary the monthly pass will cost $155 a month to Somerset/Bridlewood Station. If you are travelling between High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Calgary’s Somerset/Bridlewood LRT station the monthly cost will be $170.00. Hope that helps Chris!