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Public transit expanding in and around Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie’s transit system has gotten a major cash infusion from the province. It has received nearly $4.3 million in GreenTRIP funding to update and expand its current fleet. Manager of Transit Services Jason Henry says the first priority will be replacing seven of their 40 foot diesel buses over the next two years.

“So we’re going to look at replacing them with a 30 foot bus, and it’s going to look exactly like a transit bus, except it will have around 40 less in cost, 40 per cent less fuel, 40 per cent less Greenhouse Gas. All of these projects are geared around making our transit system greener.”

An RFP for the new buses should go out in the New Year. Even with less seats in the smaller vehicles, Henry believes they should be able to manage their growing ridership with their fleet of 21.

The funds will also go towards more wheelchair accessible buses, upgrades to some transit stops like heated shelters, and putting in an electronic fare collection system. Henry says those will help them collect more data.

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“We do this manually now and it’s fairly accurate, but as soon as the bus is turned on it’s going to be collecting data. We want to know where people are accessing our routes from, where they’re going; eventually down the road we’d like to know where they’re getting off.”

The city is already getting four new buses in January, thanks to $1.16 million in the first round of the two-thirds GreenTRIP funding. A Transit Master Plan has also been in the works for a while.

The County of Grande Prairie has spent years talking about bringing public transit to Clairmont, and they’ve also gotten a boost from the province. The $277,000 grant will help cover the cost of the bus, which was approved in this year’s budget. Reeve Leanne Beaupre says it will also go towards route planning.

“In the Clairmont area, and as well in to the City of Grande Prairie, and to some of the different venues that we have like the Sportsplex, the hospital, and maybe even Evergreen Park during certain events that are out there where they require bussing to relieve some of the issues with parking.”

Beaupre says they’re still working with the city to look at options.

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