Issues raised about airport bus sustainability

brtresizedThe airport bus, or Route 300, is under a critical review as Calgary City Council debated on whether or not the route would have enough riders to justify its cost long term.

The public Calgary transit bus, with 4 stops between the Calgary International Airport and downtown, and 8 stops within downtown, currently transports approx. 1,000 passengers daily.

Some 35 per cent of these are air travellers coming to Calgary, according to city hall documents.

airbusFor now, Route 300 will continue to transport people between the airport and downtown despite uncertainty that the number of riders justifies the cost.

Photo by Scott KingsmithRoute 300 was launched in 2011 to provide an express bus between the airport and downtown.

However, Cam Naghshineh, manager at Allied Shuttles, said the route is “duplicative and unsustainable”.

“There is no need for two operators to do almost the same thing,” he said at council’s transportation committee Wednesday, March 20.

Allied Shuttles currently has a monopoly contract for shuttle and taxi service at the airport in the city and the white cabs are the only ones allowed to line up for fares at the airport.

Allied service charges $15 to stop at hotels downtown.

Calgary Transit Route 300 began as a pilot project in June 2011, and has since been successful, making heftier revenues than some other Calgary transit routes. Route 300 brought in $210,000 in fare revenue the last quarter of the fiscal year 2013 compared to $165,000 the same quarter the year before, according to city documents.

Ridership has also increased since 2011, according to documents provided to city council. The bus costs regular fare if you get on at any of the stops in downtown or along Centre Street, but for passengers boarding at the airport, fare cost $8 per person.

Naghshineh said the shuttle provides a service that tourists want, “to not be dropped off on a random street corner.”

Ward 2 Ald. Gord Lowe said the route is to serve regular public transit goers, while the Allied’s shuttle service focuses more on business travellers.

Aldermen approved the motion and the city has no current plans to change Route 300, however Council will recommend the standing policy committee on Transportation and Transit further investigate the matter.

Ald. Lowe was the only alderman who opposed the motion. He did not give a reason.

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