Residents and city representatives gathered on Nov. 17 to discuss proposed changes to Yellowknife Transit due to take effect in fall of 2023.
The changes, referred to as YK Transit Realign, include new bus routes, one of which is called YK Connector Route. This route offers bus service every 30 minutes during peak hours, travel to Kam Lake, and more direct routes and increased hours of operation for destinations such as Stanton Territorial Hospital, Walmart, Old Town, N’dilo, Ruth Inch Memorial Pool and downtown. There would also be scheduling changes to increase pickup speed.
Another proposed change was to the current Route C. Instead of going through Niven and Old Town, it would only go through Niven and have a main stop at École St. Patrick High School.
There’s also a route that goes along Taylor Road, which makes it easier to access the school on that road, Ecole Allain St. Cyr.
Mayor Rebecca Alty said she thinks the proposed changes would be for the better, but she wants to hear from the public.
“Public transit is an important service that the City of Yellowknife provides to residents and visitors. I believe the changes made to the routes and scheduling will improve the overall experience of using our transit system, and follows the guiding principles which were identified at the start of the project,” she said. “I’m looking forward to hearing what residents think about them.
“The routes were drafted by transit consultants, who have a wealth of knowledge, but now we need to validate the routes from the on-the-ground experts: residents who use or will use transit. Will these routes help you get to where you need to go better than the current routes? Any other suggestions to improve them? I hope residents will participate in the survey, if they weren’t able to make (it to) the in-person meetings.”
The link to the survey Alty referred to where people can leave feedback is available on the City of Yellowknife website homepage until Nov. 30.
On Nov. 17, inside the YK Centre on 48 Street, the city set up signs displaying the new bus routes and asked if residents agreed with the proposed changes.
One of the signs stated that the municipality plans to maintain the same budget, which was pencilled in at $2.6 million for 2022.
Sarah Sibley, communications officer for the city, explained how they intend to execute that.
“Bus stops are currently serviced every 40 minutes throughout the day. The proposed new routes will feature 30-minute service during peak hours of the day and 60-minute service during off-peak times. This approach will increase the frequency of buses at busier times of the day to improve service for commuters,” Sibley stated. “The proposed new routes will have the same number of total busing hours in a day as the current routes, and therefore uses the same budget.”
This is also going to entail some changes for Yellowknife Accessible Transit System (YATS), including a new name.
“YATS is planned to be rebranded to YK Flex at the same time that the new routes are implemented. Both the YATS guidelines and registration process are being reviewed in order to modernize the service and make it easier for riders. Changes are still being finalized,” said Sibley, adding that the municipality is looking at current and future bus stops to see what changes or improvements can be made to accessibility for the transit system.
The city currently uses seven buses on its fixed routes and two buses for YATS.