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Lodge residents using Black Diamond shuttle bus

Eight months in to providing a shuttle bus service, the Town has paid almost $13,000 to subsidize the service and there have been 274 one-way trips. CAO Sharlene Brown said a lot of use for the bus comes from High Country Lodge residents.
WW-Black Diamond Transit Launch BWC 0353 web
Driver Cynthia Hayes demonstrates the wheelchair ramp on the bus at the launch of the Sheep River Shuttle service in Black Diamond in February 2021.

Eight months in to providing a shuttle bus service, the Town of Black Diamond has paid almost $13,000 to subsidize the service and there have been 274 one-way trips.

CAO Sharlene Brown said a lot of use for the bus comes from High Country Lodge residents.

“With the lack of an accessible taxi, the shuttle has been proving successful for lodge residents to get to their appointments, even in Okotoks, or to help with groceries,” Brown said.

The bus runs Tuesdays and Thursdays and is booked on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Sometimes there are conflicting times or the bus is not available,” she said. “So if a bus is in Okotoks when someone needs it for a doctor’s appointment in Black Diamond there needs to be some shuffling, so we do ask for 24 hour in advance booking.”

The Town will look at the days the bus is available, Brown said.

“There is usage, but it is really slow uptake,” she said. “We may re-evaluate some of the days.”

She said they are looking at ridership monthly and will be flexible in providing the bus on the days and times when they are most needed.

One hundred and forty-nine of the trips booked between January and August were to Okotoks and 104 were within Black Diamond and 13 were to Turner Valley. The wheelchair lift was used eight times in that time frame.

Ridership slowly increased between January and April and peaked at 48 rides before declining significantly in May to 20 trips in May and increasing again to get back up to 43 rides in August.

Trips between Black Diamond and Turner Valley cost $3 and a trip to Okotoks is $7. Children five and under ride the shuttle bus for free.

Revenues came in at just over $6,570 and cost taxpayers an additional $12,891 to subsidize the bus service.

Brown said a shuttle bus is an important service for a small town like Black Diamond to provide.

“It is a very valuable service for people that don’t have transportation,” she said.

Originally Black Diamond had looked at providing transportation along with the Town of Turner Valley. When Turner Valley decided they did not want to go ahead with providing a bus, Black Diamond partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to go ahead with the plan.

The Town purchased two one-year-old commercial passenger buses equipped with wheelchair lifts at $55,000 each from Southland Transportation.

The town received a grant that covered two-thirds of the capital costs.

Busses can be booked by calling 403-861-2081.


About the Author: Darlene Casten

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