A bus travels up Lazulite Drive in Whitehorse on Oct. 1. The City of Whitehorse is considering a new transit schedule and routes to be in place in early 2021. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Transit changes could be made early next year

Virtual town hall scheduled for Oct. 6, survey now underway

The City of Whitehorse could have a new transit schedule and routes in place in early 2021.

As the city gets set to develop a new bus route and schedule system, officials are asking the public for their thoughts on the possibilities.

A virtual town hall is set for Oct. 7 from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. along with a survey that’s available until Oct. 30.

The potential changes come out of the transit master plan that was finalized in 2019.

“In 2018, the City of Whitehorse commissioned its first ever Transit Master Plan, which envisioned a transit system that serves all mobility needs, leverages investments in active and sustainable modes of transportation, and is well-positioned for the future,” it was noted in a statement by the city.

“The Transit Master Plan study resulted in a set of recommendations to improve the transit route alignment and scheduling and better match travel demand for today and into the future.”

Among other recommendations such as tech updates were changes to the route and schedule, including eliminating some bus routes that have low ridership in favour of a home-to-hub service that would be provided to customers in those areas where they would call for a ride to the nearest transit hub.

The changes being contemplated for next year propose to pilot the home-to-hub service for the neighbourhoods of Ravens Ridge and Lobird.

In details provided in the survey, it’s noted customers could request a ride via an app or phone call with the wait times anticipated to be about 20 minutes compared to the current 60-minute service between buses.

A total of five bus routes would be in place under the proposed plan compared to the six routes there are now.

The changes, it’s stated by the city, would simplify the bus network, remove service duplications and better match transit service with the demand. There would be increased service to and from Yukon University to accommodate growing demand there with coordinated schedules aimed at facilitating transfers at the university and Canada Games Centre. All routes would be serviced every hour with half hour service at peak periods on all except the Hillcrest/Airport route that would travel from that neighbourhood to Porter Creek and Whistle Bend.

Other routes would travel from Riverdale to Yukon University, Copper Ridge to downtown and (during peak periods) Riverdale, Porter Creek and Crestview to Yukon University, and Whistle Bend to Yukon University with various transfers between the routes.

The current system, it’s noted on the survey, provides coverage throughout the city with transfers along Second Avenue that allow for fewer transfers between neighbourhoods. It also “serves long distances between neighbourhoods with very few stops and low passenger activity (for example, from Downtown to Lobird and from Lobird to Granger)” and “does not align with existing demand – three or more routes serve Downtown, Porter Creek, Granger, and Riverdale, yet only one route serves Yukon University and service to Whistle Bend is only provided during peak periods.”

The current system also provides one-hour frequency on all routes with half-hour service during peak periods on the Riverdale and a Copper Ridge/Granger route.

As the city looks to making changes, it is asking for feedback from residents “to make sure these changes reflect the needs of the community and to ensure nothing is overlooked.”

Residents can join the virtual town hall at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7 here or can join in by phone by calling 833-266-3861 and then entering the meeting ID number 810 434 887 followed by #.

The survey is also available online until Oct. 30 here.

A report will be finalized late this year with any route and schedule changes to be implemented in early 2021.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

public transitWhitehorse city council