COCHRANE — Cochrane residents now have a new way to get around after Monday’s launch of the COLT transit on demand service.
Short for Cochrane On Demand Local Transit, COLT will allow residents to request a bus at one of 152 stops in the community northwest of Calgary.
“It is a giant Uber bus system pretty much,” said Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung.
“It’s the first of its kind in Canada, so lots of eyes are on Cochrane today.”
Officials said the first day say 169 riders take 80 trips, with half of those being shared rides. And the average ride time, including waiting, was 22 minutes.
Other communities have implemented bus on demand but Genung says Cochrane is the first to make it system wide.
Requests can be made mere minutes ahead of a trip or as much as a week in advance through a website, mobile app, or by calling COLT directly at 403-851-5995.
Jaclyn LaLiberte, her mother-in-law and two children were the first to book a ride on the new system.
“I’ve been eagerly waiting for the launch and excited to be the first family on the bus as well,” said LaLiberte.
“I think it has great potential to really serve the community and I’m looking forward to being car free as often as possible.”
Four, 21-seat buses were in service Monday, but the fleet can increase quickly to eight based on demand. Each bus cost approximately $160,000.
Cochrane has budgeted $600,000 per year to operate the COLT busses. It has contracted Southland Transportation to staff and manager the COLT system.
“It was almost half the operating cost for the town (compared to a continuously circulating bus system,” said Genung.
“So that was one of the reasons we went this way.”
The service will be free for the remainder of 2019.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, it will cost $2.50 for a single, one-way ticket while books of 10 tickets will be $20.
Adult monthly passes will be $50, seniors months passes will be $30 and student monthly passes will be $25. Children under age five will ride for free.
The service runs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, then from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. There will be no service on Sundays.
There will be space for up to two bikes on each bus beginning at the end of January 2020, and reservations can be made when booking.
Pets will not be permitted on COLT but there will be exemptions for service animals.