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Warm weather fueled busier October for Banff

“It was an awesome October for weather and folks chose to come to the mountains and take advantage of that."
Roam transit 2
A Roam transit electric bus in Banff on Tuesday (June 21). JUNGMIN HAM RMO PHOTO

BANFF – Above average temperatures and sunny skies led to a busier than usual October in the Banff townsite.

According to the Town of Banff, vehicle volumes were 478,835 last month, which was a 10 per cent increase from October 2021 volumes when the Canadian border was open to fully vaccinated non-essential international travellers.

Volumes were two per cent above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels of 2019 and nine per cent above 2016. 

Town of Banff officials say October’s significantly higher than normal daily high temperatures and sunny weather appeared to encourage many visitors, despite the impacts of this year’s high inflation on travel.

“It was an awesome October for weather and folks chose to come to the mountains and take advantage of that,” said Adrian Field, director of engineering for the Town of Banff. 

According to Environment Canada, the average daily high last month was 14.9 C, compared to an average daily temperature of 9.8 C in October 2021 and 6.1 C in October 2019.

“The average daily high for October in Banff is 10.1 C,” said Field.

So far this year, overall vehicle volumes were about 504 million, which is a 20 per cent increase over 2021. However, the numbers represent a five per cent decrease from 2019 year-to-date volumes and a two per cent decrease from 2016 numbers.

As for the Bow Avenue Bridge, which is a pinch point in the road network because of tourist attractions on the south side of the Bow River, October vehicle volume was 320,113, which is a seven per cent increase over October 2021 but a seven per cent decrease from 2019.

Year-to-date volumes increased 24 per cent over 2021 and decreased 14 per cent from 2019.

“The seven per cent bridge volume decrease from October 2019 versus the main entrances volume increase of two per cent are welcome indicators of a shift to sustainable and active mode transportation,” said Field.

As for Mountain Avenue, there was an 18 per cent increase last month compared to October 2021, a two per cent increase from 2019 and a six per cent increase from 2012.

Field said the two per cent increase from October 2019 matches the main entrances volume increase of two per cent, with exceptionally warm and sunny weather in October a likely contributor to the popularity of Sulphur Mountain tourist attractions.

“A greater proportion of folks going over the bridge chose to go to the gondola, I presume, because of the lovely warmer days,” he said.

As for Roam ridership, the bus route to the gondola saw a 31 per cent increase in ridership from 28,982 in October 2019 to 37,893 this October.

The Tunnel Mountain/Fairmont route saw a 56 per cent increase, from 21,044 in October 2019 to 32,911 last month.

Field said ridership on Routes 1 and 2 in Banff is remaining strong with the addition of service this winter.

“October ridership, with 70,804 passenger rides, is 41.5 per cent over October of 2019,” he said.

As for summer months of July and August, the municipality’s counters showed vehicle volumes were down six per cent from the summer months of 2019.

Monitoring showed the number of days people were stuck in traffic heading down from Sulphur Mountain northbound across the Bow River Bridge for more than 15 minutes was fewer than in 2019, even though the 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue were closed for the pedestrian zone.

“I would say transit saved the day this summer,” said Field.