A brightly decked blue and white bus sat parked in front of city hall as Mayor Greg Dionne proclaimed a “great day for the city of P.A.”
It was an iconic way to welcome seven new 35-foot-long fully-accessible buses the city purchased to upgrade its ageing transportation fleet. He was joined by members of the public who stopped in to question the shiny new vehicle resting just metres from the Diefenbaker statue.
“When we all walked on the bus we all went ‘wow’ and our passengers that see this bus, and come off what we had to this, this is a wild moment,” he said.
Dionne was most proud of the new low floor accessibility options, wheelchair spaces and additional space for up to 51 passengers, including 19 standing passengers. He also made note of the five security cameras on each bus, filming everything from the driver to the fare box and externally.
“We have really brought our fleet into the modern world,” he said. “We are going to have opportunities to advertise in and out, giving that big city image. I can see nothing but growth in the transit area.”
Transportation and Traffic Manager Keri Sapsford was on hand for the unveiling. She was “very excited” to get the buses on the road. Fare boxes, bike racks and a few other final details are needed before the new fleet will be phased in over the coming weeks.
The new buses are supported in part by the federal government through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, which provided $614,386 of the $3.34 million price tag. The reminder came from city coffers.
She too was proud of the new accessibility options, and said the buses will have an “overall wow factor.”
The new buses come one year after the initial order and hold a 15-year lifespan, according to Sapsford.
The new purchase is the largest capital investment the city has made in its transit system to date. The city has offered transit to its citizens since 2004 and made continual upgrades over the years, including most recently offering online route mapping through Google Transit.
Prince Albert Transit provided 392,833 rides in 2017, a four per cent increase over 2016 and a 53 per cent jump since 2009.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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