INNISFAIL – Town council has been given full details of the imminent transition of Innisfail’s PACE Transportation Service to state-of-the-art on-demand transit service.
The new service, which is being contracted out to Red Deer-based Prairie Bus Lines from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 at a cost of $120,000 to taxpayers, begins on April 3.
The operation of the new service takes over from the longstanding commitment of the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 to manage local transit at an annual taxpayer cost of $88,000.
“Where this is going is that it takes (transit) to the next level and hopefully it will be able to serve the needs of the community,” said Town of Innisfail Mayor Jean Barclay following council’s Agenda & Priorities Meeting on March 20. “It's going to take a little bit of getting used to for people, so there's going to be a need for quite a bit of communication about the changes that are taking place.
“In communities the size of Innisfail transportation is a challenge. We get no external funding from other levels of government to assist with that. The cities get core funding for transportation, we don't,” added Barclay. “The challenges in a community like this can be quite massive when it comes to people needing to go to medical appointments. Not all medical appointments are going to take place in Innisfail.”
Barclay said she is especially impressed the new on-demand service has a critically important data collection component.
“With that data they are collecting, times a day and days of week, they will be able to adapt the service to the community needs. I think that is the most critical component of this,” said Barclay.
Meghan Jenkins, the town’s director of community services, told council the on-demand service will operate within the boundaries of the town of Innisfail, and inside the regional “square” shaped area from the north boundary of Penhold, to the south boundary of Bowden, east to Highway 791 and west to Highway 781.
She said the service will be seven days a week; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
There will be a $5 per person charge for one-way rides inside the town of Innisfail, with “allowances” available for support workers who will be allowed to ride for free.
One-way fares per person for out-of-town fares in the service area is $15. There is no charge for children under the age of six.
Rides to Red Deer, Sylvan Lake or Olds are $50 for a round trip.
Rides can be booked through the RideCo pick-up app 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The app is available on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
Payment must be made by credit card or presentation of a ticket.
As well, rides can also be booked through the call centre, which is open the same times as the service, by calling 403-227-0677.