ROCKY VIEW – After careful review of the areas they service, Rocky View Regional Handibus has decided to implement a standard fee for passengers on all of their buses.
Paul Siller, manager of Rocky View Regional Handibus, said that the amount of money users pay for handibus transportation in rural Alberta may vary depending on where they live, the amount the municipality contributes to the service, and the success of fundraising efforts. So, in an effort to keep rates fair for everyone, they have decided to charge everyone the same amount per kilometer traveled.
A year-and-a-half ago, volunteers from the Big Hill Senior Citizens Activity Society in Cochrane, who had provided services to seniors for 30 years, were retiring and approached Siller to see if Rocky View Handibus could take over where their services would leave off.
“We hated to say no, so we did everything we could to take over and keep services up and running for people,” Siller said. “That meant honouring Cochrane’s existing fare system and adopting Cochrane’s scheduling system even though it wasn’t compatible with the system used in the rest of the service area.”
In 2011, funding from Nexen, Alberta Lotteries and an anonymous donor paid for scheduling software to help them manage the 40 per cent change in growth.
“We looked for software that would allow us to increase our efficiency in coordinating the region and that’s when we found these fare inequities, depending on where people lived and which direction they were travelling,” Siller said.
He said that Rocky View Handibus kept the status quo until they were able to develop a standard fare structure.
“Now, everyone will pay the same rate – $4 for every 10 kilometers,” Siller said. “The new fares will cover a quarter of the costs to provide handibus services.”
Under the new structure, trips from Airdrie/Balzac to Calgary will increase by a dollar, a one way trip from Chestermere to the Foothills Hospital stays about the same and a one way trip from Prince of Peace Manor to the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre will drop from $12 to $8.
Cochrane passengers will see significant changes in the fares because of the distances involved, and fares will also change from roundtrip basis to one-way fares.
A trip from Cochrane to the Lougheed hospital in Calgary will increase to $20 each way instead of the current $25 return fare.
The shorter trip to the Foothills Hospital will cost about $16 each-way. Trips within Cochrane will remain at the same rate: $4 each way.
Siller said that despite the changes, he found that the new rate structure still works out to be of less cost than what most of the rural handibus agencies are asking passengers to pay.
The new fares will go into effect in April 2012. Passengers will know the fare at time of booking their trip.The quoted fare won’t change if the bus detours while sharing the ride with other passengers.
All of the rate information will be available on the Rocky View Regional Handibus website: www.rockyviewbus.ca
For more information, contact Paul Siller at 403-948-2887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.