Provincial government announces rural bus plan for north and central Alberta

The Alberta legislature on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Emily Mertz, Global News

Editor’s note: The province originally said the Town of High River would receive one of the grants but later corrected that to the Municipal District of Spirit River. This story has been updated to reflect the corrected information.

Residents in certain communities in northern and central Alberta will have an easier time getting around after funds announced by the Alberta government on Thursday.

The City of Camrose and Grande Prairie County will split more than $1.4 million over two years as part of the Rural Transportation Pilot Program.

Camrose will be receiving two grants – totaling more than $450,000 – that will allow them to establish a bus shuttle service between Camrose and Edmonton. More than $137,000 will be to hire a regional transit coordinator to oversee ride-sharing opportunities in the area.

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Mayor Norman Mayer said the money would be used to create a Camrose-Edmonton shuttle service provided by Red Arrow.

“[The service] will open up educational, health care, employment, recreation and social opportunities that residents in the city and across the county did not have before.”

WATCH BELOW: A group of university students is hoping to turn a class project into a reality. They want to see daily public transportation between Camrose and Edmonton. Sarah Kraus filed this report in 2016.

Click to play video: 'Post-secondary students call for bus service between Edmonton and Camrose'
Post-secondary students call for bus service between Edmonton and Camrose

Grande Prairie County will receive nearly $640,000 to create a regional transit service that the government says would connect Sexsmith, Clairmont, Wembley, Beaverlodge and Hythe with the City of Grande Prairie’s existing transit system.

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The Municipal District of Spirit River will use $200,000 to expand the existing Family and Community Support Services Transportation program service from one day a month to three days a week. That program provides van service between Spirit River, Rycroft and Grande Prairie.

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“Our government made a commitment to try to help people living in rural Alberta with their transportation needs,” Transportation Minister Brian Mason said in a news release on Thursday.

“Whether it is a medical appointment, classes for school or simply a shopping trip, projects like these will help people get from one community to another in a faster and more efficient way.”

The province said it selected these communities because more than 100,000 Albertans live in the areas selected and a large number of them can’t access regional transit services.

Other projects are being considered for funding as well. The province said that includes ride-sharing services, conventional transit or new taxi services.

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