By Saima Asad, June 16 2017 —
If you’re travelling to Banff this weekend, you can leave your car at home and take the bus instead. The first trip of the new Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) transit line between Calgary and Banff is at 5:49 a.m. on June 17. The pilot program is the result of a partnership between the CRP, Parks Canada and the Towns of Banff and Canmore. It seeks to establish a transit corridor between Banff and Calgary.
On-It Regional Transit is offering rides on weekends and statutory holidays to and from Banff National Park until September 4 for a $10 one-way price. Entrance to the park is free for Canada’s 150th anniversary. Once inside, visitors can use free transit and shuttle options to travel within the park and to neighbouring areas, such as Lake Louise and Lake Minnewanka.
“You can go all the way to Lake Louise from Somerset[-Bridlewood LRT], so it’s an excellent deal,” said CRP regional transit program manager Ettore Iannacito.
If the pilot draws heavy ridership, CRP plans to continue the service at a slightly higher rate.
A full transit schedule is available online. Calgary riders can hop on a bus at the Somerset-Bridlewood or Crowfoot LRT stations. After departing Calgary, the bus will either take Highway 1 directly to Banff or Highway 1A to stop in Canmore before arriving in Banff. Iannacito said riders should purchase tickets in advance.
“We encourage all of our customers to pre-purchase their ticket online. That way you would be guaranteed a spot on the day you want to travel and the trip you want to travel,” he said. “We do have the option where customers can show up and they can pay on board. They can take their chances and buy a ticket as they board if the ticket is available.”
The service does not accept cash, but customers can pay with credit or debit cards. On-It does not provide physical tickets, instead emailing them to customers, who can print them if needed. Bus drivers will scan the tickets upon boarding.
Parks Canada said the transit line will enable visitors to experience Banff in a more environmentally friendly way.
“Parks Canada wants to ensure the best possible visitor experience for visitors to Banff National Park. Increasing regional transit options will allow more visitors to experience Banff National Park without putting more vehicles on the roads and parking areas. Increasing public transit means reducing congestion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving overall visitor experiences,” said Parks Canada public relations and communications officer Christie Thomson.