By Saima Asad, May 17 2017 —
Instead of boarding a plane or taking a road trip this summer, you might just want to hop on the bus for your next vacation.
Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) is collaborating with Parks Canada, the Town of Banff and the Town of Canmore to offer transit options to Banff and other national parks this summer. The bus service, operated by On-It Regional Transit, will run on weekends and statutory holidays between June 17 and September 4. Priced at $10, the one-way trip will run eight to nine times per day and lasts roughly one and a half hours.
CRP regional transit program manager Ettore Iannacito said the pilot project intends to connect Calgary to Banff via public transit.
“The goal really is to connect with Banff [and] establish that transit corridor,” he said.
If successful, the service may also operate this winter or next summer.
The pilot comes at a time of anticipated heavy traffic through Banff. Entrance to all national parks is free this year in commemoration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“The whole concept is quite simple. It’s to bring people to the park to enjoy the benefits of the park and enhance the whole experience,” Iannacito said.
The route begins in Okotoks and stops at the Somerset-Bridlewood and Crowfoot LRT stations to pick up riders. From there, the bus will take either Highway 1 directly to Banff or Highway 1A to pick up Canmore residents before arriving at Banff. The coach-style buses seat 55 people and have bathrooms.
Once in Banff, Parks Canada’s Roam transit service will also offer shuttle options around the town.
Town of Banff communications and marketing director Diana Waltman said the transit services give visitors a new way to explore Banff.
“From the On-It bus — when it arrives in Banff — you can transfer free of cost to Roam public transit,” she said. “That will take you around the townsite of Banff and up to the gondola, so you can explore the park.”
Free shuttle rides to Lake Minnewanka and Lake Louise will also run daily between May 19 and October 10 on an hourly schedule.
“I am excited that more visitors will be able to experience Banff National Park car-free this year. This is good for the environment, and it will also reduce traffic in busy areas and support our government’s commitment to preserving our national parks,” Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said in a statement.