By Justin Seward
Alta Newspaper Group – Bow Island
The Highway 3 Connector bussing pilot project that has been connecting passengers between Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, and a majority of communities in between, since April has seen a steady rise in passengers in the first couple of months.
The Southlands Transportation-led initiative has 71 round trips in May and 93 in June.
“There’s never been a full bus,” said Simon Amos, City of Medicine Hat’s transit services manager. “Some days there are six or seven passengers going. A lot of passengers are going from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge. It’s a slight increase each month, we’re hoping for that to steadily climb as more people learn about the system and get familiar with it.”
Amos says in areas such as Seven Persons that no one has boarded from the hamlet yet and have had a few passengers board in Purple Springs, Taber and Barnwell. However, Medicine Hat, Taber and Redcliff have seen the most riders.
Bow Island had seen only six passengers depart in May and June.
“It’s been a steady climb in passengers,” he said. “With the help of Southlands and the partnerships with rural communities, we hope to improve those numbers for sure.”
The hope is to double the trips total by the end of the project in December 2020.
While Amos was uncertain as to when the service will reach that number, transit may make some changes to maximize the number.
“We’ll crunch the numbers and we’ll look at where people are going,” said Amos. “We’re asking the rural partners to provide additional suggestions and then some of the suggestions that have been brought forward are new stops in Lethbridge.”
Changes will not come until six months after the pilot project is complete.