Saskatoon’s growth plan includes new transit and biking systems

The core of a future transit plan in Saskatoon is a bus rapid transit system, along with a downtown cycling network. File / Global News

Saskatoon is ready to take the next step with an improved bus system, and more bike lanes, to meet the future growth of the city.

Officials said the core of a future transit plan is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

“We’re at a critical time in considering how we’re going to develop our city for the future,” said Lesley Anderson, the city’s director of planning and development.

“The input we’ve received from members of the community has helped to shape the plan for bus rapid transit, and we’re looking forward to continue working with citizens to identify the best ways to implement it in the coming years.”

READ MORE: Downtown Saskatoon businesses worried about BRT route

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Three lines are proposed for the BRT system, which the city said would improve travel speed, reliability, capacity, and customer experience.

The existing transit looped network reconfigured to a mostly grid network and most conventional routes would connect to the BRT.

Some ways the city is proposing to ensure the BRT is fast and direct is to improve roadways, including queue jump lanes to get buses through congested intersections and transit only lanes, and having priority at traffic signals.

The plan also identifies four streets for a downtown cycling network: 19th Street, 23rd Street, 4th Avenue, and Idylwyld Drive.

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“These streets were selected based on a detailed understanding of trade-offs between the variety of users and functions these downtown streets serve, striving to achieve a balance amongst all users,” said Jay Magus, the acting director of transportation.

“The proposed downtown AAA (all ages and abilities) cycling network introduces a three-and-a-half kilometre network of downtown cycling facilities, providing an interconnected system of facilities that is comfortable and attractive for most users.”

Administration said the transit plan was developed with input from the community, and the next step is to present the report to the city’s special governance and priorities committee on June 20.

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“Bus rapid transit, the transit plan and the AAA cycling network are initiatives about which we have had great conversations within the community and we are using those comments to adjust proposals into plans,” said Michael Moellenbeck, the acting director of Saskatoon Transit.

“There will be more engagement required as we work to develop the final plans but this special meeting will provide us with an excellent starting point.”

READ MORE: City of Saskatoon consulting public and stakeholders on latest BRT configuration

City officials said they will continue to gather feedback from the community to address issues such as parking, traffic, congestion and safety as the transit plan develops.

Changes to the transit system could start as early as 2019 based on city council approval and the availability of funding.

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