An update on COLT is that the transit system is starting to see pre-COVID levels. Devin LaFleche, Community Connectivity Advisor says they are “Seeing about 200 to 250 passengers per day, we were struggling with a bit of a driver shortage prior to the summer, so that was a challenge just with ridership coming back construction and then not enough buses on the road but now we’ve got that worked out.” 

Now thoughts and plans are turning to the fall and with the return to school, as of September 1, 2022, the COLT transit system will be updating a service change to and from schools in Cochrane.  

The issue of COLT and school busing was looked at prior to the launch of COLT. LaFleche says, “We looked at actually prior to launching COLT, we explored what about with school busing, we had our transit task force and it became pretty clear just looking at Cochrane’s population. Of the number of students, one-third of the population is under 18. When you look at over 120 school buses and we knew we are getting eight COLT buses, we weren’t going to be able to be an alternative to school busing.” 

LaFleche says there was, at one point, talk of COLT adapting and working with Rocky View Schools on a plan but then the pandemic hit, and that idea stalled.  

After careful consideration, the decision has been made to restrict COLT service during morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups at school bus stops during school busing hours.  

LaFleche says, “So, the idea behind it is to avoid being a redundant service with school bus stops. Students can't be dropped off 30 minutes before the start bell and 15 minutes after the start bell as well. Then in the afternoon, there is no afternoon pickup 10 minutes before the school end bell and then 30 minutes after the school end bell.  LaFleche says the exception to the rule is if the student is going to a non-residential area such as an after-school job or after-school program or Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, they can still book those trips from that school stop. For school staff, bookings will be allowed to be made during the restricted period and LaFleche says, “We may look at some other situations later.”  

Since COLT is still relatively new and because of the disruption caused by COVID, there is still tweaking and fine-tuning to be done. All drivers, including COLT drivers, face challenges when trying to get from point A to point B in Cochrane. LaFleche says, “When I show other transit people managing transit systems, our topography, and our layout of the town, they’re always very impressed with the challenges. Two highways, the river, a train, and some fairly large communities with a single road into them.” 

For example, the congestion in the Tri-school area poses a big challenge for transit with buses, parents driving kids, and then the COLT buses were getting tied up in there and of course the topping on it all, highway construction. It is for that reason that LaFleche says COLT cannot provide after-school service to the commercial area or non-residential just because of the congestion and delays.

COLT continues to be a work-in-progress adjusting to the changing needs of the community and for now, the restrictions of stops are as follows:  

  • No morning drop-offs 30 minutes before the school start bell and 15 minutes after the start bell. 

  • No afternoon pick-ups 10 minutes before the school end bell and 30 minutes after the school end bell. 

  • Students (except for the Tri-Schools*) can still be picked up in the afternoon if their destination is downtown, in a commercial area, or in the SLS Family Sports Centre. 

  • Due to congestion around the Tri-Schools, afternoon pick-ups will only be available 10 minutes before the school end bell and 30 minutes after the school end bell. 

LaFleche says there is exciting news about service expansion coming next week pertaining to the local regional service integration and its potential launch.