The regional connector component of the town's transit strategy got a boost yesterday with a $2.125 million shot in the arm from the Alberta Community Transit Fund towards purchasing up to five electric buses.

The proposed electric regional bus service will connect Cochrane to the Crowfoot Calgary Transit interchange and provide daily service to the University of Calgary and SAIT during the school year. This service will also allow Calgary residents to connect from Calgary Transit to the new Cochrane transit hub and, if necessary, utilize the upcoming local on-demand transit system to travel through Cochrane.

If demand requires, this service will operate six days a week, allowing Cochrane and area residents to travel into Calgary on Saturday and link to the Banff On-It service in the summer months.

It's not 100 per cent funding. The town is required to cover 50 per cent of the cost. The town will look to recognize the capital investment through a fare collection partnership with Southland and has two years to report how the funds were used.

The buses will be owned by the town and operated by Southland Transportation Ltd., who was selected as the contractor for the town's transit system. One of the major factors in Southland's selection was its regional transit component.

Currently, the town is gearing up for a fall launch of its cutting-edge transit system.

Cochrane was one of 17 communities benefitting from the fund, launched by the Alberta government in August. The $215-million fund was established for municipalities, Métis Settlements and transit commissions and authorities to invest in low and zero-emission transit vehicles and give more Albertans the option to use public transit. Some $115 million of the grant fund comes from Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.

Most of the funds were allocated to Calgary and Edmonton with other municipalities, including Cochrane, receiving a total of $17.8 million.

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