Pathway 12 in Profile: Diverse Options for Getting Around

In the Cochrane Sustainability Plan, Pathway 12 is all about making sure residents have good transportation options.  With the recent announcement of funding through GreenTRIP, we are a significant step closer to sustainable transportation across the community. 

Pathway 12:  There are diverse options for getting around.

Target:  By 2029, there is a complete interconnected node and corridor network throughout Cochrane and its region that is accessible to the full range of vehicular and non-vehicular uses/users

Cochrane is fortunate to have an extensive pathway system that helps residents stay connected.  The pathways make it possible to bike and walk throughout much of the community under our own steam.  Still, for many people, getting around means using a private vehicle or public transportation. Cochrane has benefited from several private commuter options that have made travel easier, as well as the Handi-bus service that provides transportation options for seniors and those with disabilities.  Overall, however, public transit has not been an option for most residents.

Fortunately, that is about to change.

In August, Cochrane received a significant boost in its efforts to have accessible, affordable and environmentally sound transportation available to residents.  The Province of Alberta announced funding of $6 million through the Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP), $3 million of which will be funded by The Town of Cochrane.  Much of Cochrane’s portion of the funding will be secured through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.

“Having a transit system in place is a key element in Cochrane achieving its sustainability targets,” says Valerie McCracken, Co-Chair of Sustainability Partners Uniting Resources (SPUR).  Valerie attended the August announcement of the GreenTRIP funding on behalf of SPUR, and along with Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride and Premier Ed Stelmach spoke about the many benefits to the community.  “Pathway 12 in the Cochrane Sustainability Plan is focused on ensuring citizens have good options for getting around, and this new funding for public transit will put us much closer to our sustainable transportation goals.”

GreenTRIP is a one-time capital funding program intended to provide Albertans with a wider range of sustainable public transit alternatives which will help increase transit ridership, reduce traffic congestion and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emission

“Transit is a key component of The Town of Cochrane’s economic development strategy as well as our sustainability plan,” Mayor McBride said during the announcement. “We appreciate this provincial support, which will allow us to both grow and green Cochrane’s economy, enhancing quality of life for all Cochranites.”

Initially, the GreenTRIP funding is expected to support the purchase of four double-deck transit buses and four community shuttle buses, to build a public transit terminal, and design a bus storage and maintenance facility. The double-deck buses will provide transit service between Cochrane and Calgary and the shuttle buses will be used for transit service within Cochrane.

The benefits of public transit include:

  • Greater flexibility and choice for all Canadians in their transportation options
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved energy use and air quality
  • Greater economic activity and competitiveness
  • More dynamic downtown cores
  • Development of affordable housing
  • Increased property values
  • Enhanced local connectivity and greater social inclusion
  • Mobility for youth, post-secondary students, seniors, low-income residents; accessibility for all users

Local and regional transit is one of three Town Council priorities for 2011. Armed with a feasibility study and input from the Calgary Regional Partnership and Calgary Transit, Town of Cochrane Administration is now examining opportunities for phased-in and affordable transit options that will benefit citizens, while at the same time supporting the goals of the Cochrane Sustainability Plan.

A detailed transit strategy will be presented to Town Council by the end of 2011.  The strategy will address:

  • How a phased approach to transit would be implemented from 2012 to 2018
  • How transit will support economic development in Cochrane, particularly around the 45-acre site being redeveloped on Griffin Road
  • How Cochrane will promote a transit culture to advance sustainability goals
  • How the private sector will be involved and leveraged
  • Fare integration with Calgary Transit
  • Partnership opportunities for future service delivery
  • Operating revenues and costs estimated for service delivery options
  • How incorporating the new Town Shop into the transit maintenance facility would create cost efficiencies and space on the existing shop site to build another Town facility