Saskatoon’s bus rapid transit system delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic

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WATCH: Saskatoon will have to wait a little longer for bus rapid transit after the city said the project will be delayed for at least one year – Sep 3, 2021

The launch of Saskatoon’s bus rapid transit system will be delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report heading to the city’s transportation committee on Sept. 7 says the pandemic did not allow proper engagement with stakeholders.

Read more: Saskatoon looking to capitalize on federal transit dollars for BRT

“Not being able to meet in person meant we were unable to meet our engagement principles of inclusivity and relationship building,” Terry Schmidt, general manager of transportation and construction, said in a statement Wednesday.

“We determined it was necessary to extend the launch date to June 2026 so we can gather the important public and staff input needed to ensure the BRT system meets the needs of our residents.”

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The city said public feedback on planning and construction is required in several areas.

Read more: Saskatoon city council moves ahead with corridor plan

While consultation on other city projects has been able to take place virtually or online through surveys, the city noted it wanted to ensure all transit users are able to consult administration.

The city’s transportation and construction technical services director said the public grants the city is applying for in order to help fund BRT don’t have deadlines, which makes organizing public consultation slightly easier.

“We have a kind of holding pattern around the grant funding anyways and we’ve got the engagement that has been on pause for a year and a half. So there’s nothing pressing on us to push forward this faster than it really needs to,” Dan Willems told Global News.

He added stakeholders in Nutana have been able to hold virtual engagement meetings and that could be realistic for all neighbourhoods depending on the severity of the pandemic.

The final routing was approved by city council in April 2019 and was initially scheduled to launch in June 2025.

Once operational, the city has said the three lines making up the rapid-transit network will form the backbone of Saskatoon Transit.

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-With files from Kyle Benning

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