Most Hinton transit upgrades not feasible

Masha Scheele

The Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) department has worked to improve Hinton’s transit system as suggested by the 2018 Transit Review report.

Most of the recommendations included in the report were, after investigation and consideration, evaluated to have negative financial impacts and exceed the limited service vision adopted by Council, stated the report by administration brought to council at the standing committee meeting on Nov. 12.

Nine recommendations were made in the Hinton Public Transit System review done in 2018 by Dantec Associates. 

FCSS manages the transit services and made some progress on less costly improvements, including a limited service vision and mission statement, and improved reporting and monitoring measures.

The limited service vision and mission statements conclude that Hinton residents have basic choices for access and mobility and that a limited public transit system is provided to meet minimum needs for mobility.

Improvements to customer service are currently in progress, including an internal web page review and new bus stop signage.

Also part of that recommendation were GPS receivers, radio transmitters and heated bus shelters, which were not feasible at this time.

Another recommendation suggested awarding an advertising contract to sell advertising panels on the outside of the transit fleet and interior advertising space, which is being considered as a part of the Town’s overall Sponsorship Assessment.

“I think that this is an opportunity that exists for the town that we’re not taking full advantage of right now and that we should move towards,” stated Coun. Albert Ostashek.

“It’s a revenue source thatʼs widely untapped as far as a municipality goes and I think it’s a good thing for us to look at. It’s a way to bring revenue into town without relying solely on the tax base.”

CAO Martin Taylor added that the town has spoken with two advertising sponsorship firms but nothing has been pursued.

Freedom Express is currently structured to operate within the same operating model as Hinton Transit, and Freedom Express passes can be used interchangeably with Transit passes. This process will continue as currently designed.

Administration suggested that grants are available for those recommendations that currently aren’t viable.

Most of the grants are matching grants, which requires investment from the town and won’t be included in the upcoming budget cycle, said Hans van Klaveren, manager of parks, recreation and culture. 

Other recommendations included revising the operating model, changing the route of scheduled transit, purchasing heavy-duty transit buses to replace current vehicles, and modifying the fare structure to include student/youth and senior fare products, which are not currently financially feasible.