County of Grande Prairie councillors have voted to suspend the County Connector Bus Service pilot project as part of their ongoing COVID-19 safety response. Reeve Leanne Beaupre says it’s simply the right decision to make in the face of declining ridership efforts to keep members of the community safe.
“It does recognize that the County and partnering municipalities are adhering to the guidelines around community risk for those individuals who are riding the County Connector at this present time,” she says. “The round trip, especially, keeps them in the community for several hours, so they have more exposure to potential risk.”
The County Connector is a public transit service that links the County, Sexsmith, Beaverlodge, Wembley, and Hythe to the City of Grande Prairie. Beaupre says that for the last several weeks, the service had seen dwindling numbers. For those who continue to use it, she believes there are alternatives that offer up much less risk to the general public.
“Those that are using it are showing that they’re using it for going purposes such as going to work, or medical appointments.”
Beaupre says county council has written to the Ministry of Transportation with their decision in the hopes that the project could add the time spent suspended to the end of the two-year pilot project to get the best data possible. It is scheduled to wrap up in December
The pilot was made possible by a nearly $640,000 provincial grant announced in June 2018, with the first bus hitting the road in December of that year.