This partnership amongst Banff, Canmore, and Improvement District 9 has grown to include service to Parks Canada, with seasonal destinations including Johnston Canyon, Moraine Lake, the Cave and Basin and Lake Minnewanka. Year-round service to Lake Louise was added in 2018, enabling locals and visitors to travel easily between the communities. Rapid growth between 2015 and 2022 saw the fleet swell from seven buses to 29. Pre-pandemic ridership numbers exceeded 1.5 million on an annual basis. While COVD impacted ridership, numbers are already back to over half a million as residents and tourists take advantage of Roam.
“We have become an essential service in the Bow Valley,” says Martin Bean, Chief Administrative Officer. “Thanks to Roam, people can live and work here without needing a private vehicle. Our service is convenient; it means not having to look for parking and having reliable transportation on hand for a very reasonable cost.”
With the cost of living continuing to climb, Bow Valley residents see Roam as a way to make an impact on the living wage needed to reside here. The transportation service gets riders to where they need to go, saving them the cost of operating a vehicle (payments, gas, insurance, parking fees and passes) and helps lower the overall cost of living, leaving more room in the budget for other necessities.
One area Roam is working hard with their municipal partners to address is the traffic congestion experienced across the Bow Valley. With areas like Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore continuing to grow as tourist destinations, vehicular congestion continues to be top of mind as an area that needs ongoing improvement. With the Commission’s partners continuing to dedicate support to increasing the services offered by Roam, the area is seeing some improvement in the impact that transit use is having on congestion levels.
“Anything we can do to increase the use of buses to reduce the number of private vehicles and congestion is appreciated by our partners,” notes Martin.
The buses in the fleet are designed for maximum accessibility and to keep a low carbon footprint. Roam has begun its’ transition to lower emissions through taking delivery of 3 zero emission electric buses over the last year. By early 2022, the number of electric buses in the fleet will rise to 6, with plans for further integration of zero emission vehicles as replacements become due. Additionally the fleet includes buses operating on bio-diesel, including Nova hybrid and diesel, MCI low floor coaches, and 30 foot Vicinity buses for efficiency on lower ridership routes.
Safety is paramount for all aspects of Roam service. Roam has recently moved into a new Operations and Training Centre in Banff, providing indoor fleet storage as well as dispatch offices and a state-of-the-art driver training simulator. Roam has begun utilizing this simulator for training new and current drivers and predicts that 40% of all training will be done via simulation. Having a simulator that depicts actual roadways and stops in Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore allows for instructors to create and monitor scenarios that would not be possible in a bus with other vehicles and pedestrians present.
Roam is working towards several outcomes for 2024, including all popular destinations to be fully connected year-round, service from/to Calgary and continued partnerships with Parks Canada to expand and enhance service in and around Banff National Park.
However, it’s not just the riders that benefit from Roam. Local businesses have the opportunity to reach a wide audience through available advertising on interior bus panels. Roam maintains a radio and print presence in support of local media, as well as programs such as informational tent cards in local hotel rooms are provided for the convenience of guests. Roam’s community engagement is strong; Books on the Bus (partnering with local libraries), Canmore Eagles Hockey, YWCA Walk a Mile, Rotary support, and Banff Marathon are just some of the initiatives supported.
Roam is a vital service from all angles. It provides an important cost saving service to tourists and locals, it provides opportunity in the community for partnerships and giving back, and it is forward-thinking in long-term solutions for traffic congestion and accessibility. Whatever your reasons for embracing transit, with Roam Public Transit, you can roam where you want, when you want.
Click here to get the Transit App for trip planning or download the DoubleMap Bus Tracker from the App Store or Google Play Store for live bus locations.