Cochrane is receiving $15,269 in financial relief in response to shortfalls in transit ridership brought on by the pandemic.

Mayor Jeff Genung, who was present during the announcement by provincial and federal officials, says it's an acknowledgment of the on-demand system Cochrane has helped pioneer.

"I am taking that as really a shot-in-the-arm kudos for the transit system we have in place," says Mayor Genung. "It's on-demand, and because the demand wasn't there through COVID, we were able to reduce our costs."

That's not the case in major urban centres like Calgary, which saw a 51 per cent drop in ridership during the pandemic and had to contend with high fixed operating costs. The city is receiving $82.5 million in assistance, not quite enough to cover the shortfalls it has experienced.

Genung says the funding for Calgary was significant and desperately needed.

"Transits systems were hit hard across the country. I just think it's great the federal and provincial governments have heard the cries from municipalities that we need help."

Genung spoke with Alberta Transportation minister Rajan Sawhney about our transit system and the successes we've seen.

"I'm still hearing from residents that there are still some things we need to work on, fix, and improve. Now, hopefully, with COVID being mostly in the rearview mirror, we can get back to normal ridership and utilize our system for what it was designed for."

He also appreciated the acknowledgment by Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek of the value of working together as a region to improve transit.

Genung says it's not just smaller urban centres paying attention to Cochrane On-demand Local Transit (COLT).

"Major centres are looking at how we're able to adjust to ridership and change that underlining bottom line, which is in the favor of taxpayers. Larger centres are looking at us and saying maybe there's something we can learn from what Cochrane's doing, so it's exciting."

Both Airdrie and the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services of Canmore-Banff are being assisted by the fund. 

Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown was in attendance and that city received $305,871.

Transit announcementMost of the officials at the transit announcement gathered for a group shot, including Mayor Jeff Genung. (Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek twitter)

In March, Minister Sawhney announced the province would be working in partnership with the federal government to provide financial relief. Each is contributing $79.5 million to create a funding pot of almost $160 million.

The calculation used to allot the funding is based on a mix of transit ridership (70 per cent weight) and population (30 per cent weight).

A detailed list of recipients was provided by the government on the afternoon of the announcement.

Calgary region:

  • Calgary - $82,364,776
  • Airdrie - $305,871
  • Okotoks - $20,920
  • Rocky View County (Crossfield, Irricana/Beiseker) - $18,609
  • Cochrane - $15,269

Edmonton region:

  • Edmonton - $66,968,451
  • Strathcona County - $1,335,318
  • St. Albert - $795,334
  • Spruce Grove - $113,151
  • Leduc - $103,863
  • Fort Saskatchewan - $76,910
  • Beaumont - $63,901
  • Stony Plain - $5,000

Other communities:

  • Red Deer - $2,095,524
  • Lethbridge - $1,234,833
  • Wood Buffalo - $1,194,284
  • Bow Valley (Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise) - $1,162,420
  • Medicine Hat - $627,653
  • Grande Prairie - $332,852
  • Cold Lake - $123,632
  • Whitecourt - $23,369
  • Hinton - $5,000
  • Camrose - $5,000
  • Black Diamond - $5,000