For those looking for public transportation between the Columbia Valley and Calgary, good news may be on its way. Members from around the valley have been meeting at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce in hopes of finding a reasonable solution to bring back a bus line in order to get to the closest metropolitan area.
Up until last fall, Greyhound had been running a public bus from Cranbrook all the way to Calgary that made several stops in neighbouring communities such as Invermere, Windermere, Canal Flats and Fairmont Hot Springs. However, that bus route back and forth routes 5157 and 5158 was eliminated on October 15th, 2015 because of the lack of people using the service, according to Greyhound officials.
While the move angered many, there still exists a possible route for those looking to make the trip to Calgary; that is, those desperate enough that they are willing to sacrifice more time to make the trip. Using Sun City Coach Lines and Sun City Courier, people are able to catch buses that run between Golden and Cranbrook, where they can then transfer to a Greyhound that would take them through Banff and into Calgary.
At the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, local seniors have been gathering to find a way to replace this missing service. Maria Kloos spearheaded the effort, approaching Chamber executive director Susan Clovechok and inquiring if the Chamber could help address the transportation for local seniors who, with the elimination of the Greyhound bus route, were having difficulty getting to medical appointments and visiting family in Calgary.
Since then, the group has met twice, the second time including Family Dynamix executive director Pat Cope and Columbia Valley Better at Home co-ordinator Jennifer Lindal. Mrs. Clovechok said that the creation of this service will be important for seniors to be able to find a safe route to Calgary if they need it in the future.
Access to affordable, reliable transportation to and from our community is important for our local economy as it helps seniors, who no longer drive, choose to remain in our community longer and also enables those people who dont drive for whatever reason access the services and activities that are not available in the Columbia Valley, she said.
She said there could also be public support for other reasons.
I think it helped getting seasonal staff to and from the valley more than bringing in tourists, but I believe that if we can come up with the right solution for locals there would be an improved transportation choice for tourists as well, she said.
Mrs. Clovechok said the group plans to meet once more at the end of the month while also consulting with a Regional District of East Kootenay representative on a possible solution.