Transit Network Improvements Project

The Transit Network Improvements Project was designed to reshape transit service in Red Deer with plans for new routes as well as improving quality, comfort, connection and safety.

In collaboration with the community, the project helped create a Transit Network Improvements Strategy for how to reshape the City’s transit services and create the foundation for further transit improvements.

The first phases of the project developed a new transit network based on public feedback that launched in fall 2020 and offers more direct service and improved connections throughout the city. These changes also enabled the implementation of smaller vehicles serving neighbourhood routes in January 2021. 

What’s Next? As the next stage in the Transit Network Improvements Project, we are currently exploring our options for an on demand transit service and are seeking public input! Learn more and share your thoughts on the Transit On Demand page.

The following information offers background about the Transit Network Improvements Project:

Transit Network Improvement Project FAQs

What is the Transit Network Improvements Project?

The Transit Network Improvements Project is about determining where and how transit is delivered and routed to best meet the needs of Red Deerians and transit riders in our region as it grows and changes. 

The Transit Network Improvements project has already delivered a number of initiatives supporting the development of Red Deer’s transit network now and for the future. The following are some of the key highlights:

  • The development of an overarching Transit Network Improvements Strategy to guide future transit system evolution. Undertaken from March – October 2019, the Strategy recommendations were developed and refined with the participation of front-line transit staff, passengers, residents and stakeholders. The recommendations were presented to the City of Red Deer Council and approved on October 28, 2019. They include updated transit service standards, a new bus route network and service plan, a Transit Operating and Capital Work Plan and priorities for developing a rapid bus corridor on Gaetz Avenue and coordinating regional connections.
  • The immediate implementation of a completely restructured transit network in fall 2020. Based on Council’s October 2019 approval to move forward with implementation—and working around a March 2020 reduction in service levels due to COVID-19—the project team undertook detailed service planning, communications and further engagement from December 2019 to October 2020. Working within existing system operating budgets, the team implemented the completely restructured network at the lower COVID-19 levels on August 23, 2020 and then at full levels on October 4, 2020. 
  • Right-Sizing Fleet Strategy Implementation. In early 2021 the City purchased and implemented five smaller vehicles (9.1m / 30 foot low floor vehicles) for use on Neighbourhood routes. This purchase was made possible through transit funding programs from federal and provincial levels of government and are enabled through the new route structure implemented in the fall.
  • Continued service adjustments to meet COVID-19 travel patterns. Further adjustments have been made to the system in January 2021 and going forward to make sure that it is meeting changing ridership patterns as effectively as possible.
What’s Next?

We are now in the process of exploring the implementation of on-demand service for certain areas and times of day within the transit system. On-demand was a component of the original Transit Network Improvements Project recommendations and is now also a priority for exploration given the changing community travel patterns and needs due to the pandemic. We are currently collecting public feedback and encourage you to share your thoughts with us.

Take the survey

What other longer term improvements are planned as part of this project?

The Transit Network Improvements Project also included other longer term recommendations, including new infrastructure on Gaetz Avenue to support the development of the Gaetz Avenue Rapid Bus route to best service passengers and keep the Rapid Bus moving as reliably as possible. The recommendations also outline potential future improvements to the route network and service frequencies.

These proposed improvements are subject to landowner consultations and future budget approvals.

Was the public consulted for this project?

Yes, there was significant public engagement involved in this project: 

  • Validation phase (April – July 2019): This phase of public participation looked to validate the overall project values of safety, quality, comfort, and connection established in the Multimodal Transportation Plan. Included input from Council, conversations at Let’s Talk, an online survey and on-bus surveys. Over 460 people participated in this phase of the public engagement. 
  • Develop Alternatives/Options Phase (September 2019): A multifaceted approach to public participation and stakeholder engagement activities was carried out from the end of August through the third week in September. Included an online survey, stakeholder consultation and a series of eight travelling open houses at various locations across the city. Over 760 people participated in this phase of the public engagement.
  • Refining the Proposed New Network Phase (April – September 2020): Since Council approval in October 2019 and during the implementation planning process, further input was also received from passengers, citizens, stakeholders and transit staff. This input as well as detailed scheduling and operational testing of the new routes also helped shape the new network implemented in August 2020 and then its full implementation in October 2020.
  • Assessing Immediate Outcomes (October - November 2020): - Once the increased service on the new network had stabilized after the full October 4, 2020 implementation, the City and project team undertook a further round of public engagement to assess perception of the restructured services and feedback on how to continue improving transit. An online and paper survey ran from October 19 to November 2, 2020.
How does this project relate to the Multimodal Transportation Plan?

The Transit Network Improvements Project seeks to translate the broad vision identified for transit in The City’s Multimodal Transportation Plan into the series of actionable steps needed to move the plan from vision to implemented reality. The Multimodal Transportation Plan identifies a number of outcomes for each transportation mode to describe what a future user of the transportation system will experience in Red Deer.

The overall goal of the Multimodal Transportation Plan is to improve the safety, quality, comfort, and connection of all modes, ultimately providing more choice for citizens in how they move around Red Deer.

What was meant by quality, comfort, connection, safety and accessibility, and efficiency and effectiveness?
  • Quality - Offers more direct and less circuitous routes, making it easier to travel across the City without having to transfer downtown;
  • Comfort- Offers higher frequency services to the highest ridership stops and destinations;
  • Connection - Better enables citizens to more easily move between neighbourhoods and the length of the City without having to transfer downtown; and offers a mix of service types to meet different passenger needs that also link to other ways of getting around Red Deer on foot, by bicycle and by automobile.
  • Safety and Accessibility –Includes further opportunities to improve passenger amenities at stops, including universally accessible stops clear of debris and snow/ice, as well as well-lit stops with garbage bins; and providing longer hours of service on the Rapid Bus and Core routes to enable more citizens to have access to jobs, school, services, and social and recreation opportunities.
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness –Better matches service to higher demand areas and times, as well as creates a network that can better serve future community growth. Depending on ridership there will be the opportunity to right size the fleet and introduce smaller CNG buses.