Transit riders in Yellowknife can expect a new system of routes and a new-look service by the summer of 2022, city documents state.
The contract to run Yellowknife’s transit service is up for renewal. The city’s plans for the next five-year contract are set out in a request for proposals.
In that document, the city says it expects to roll out new routes by July 2022 following a public engagement earlier that year.
In 2019, an examination of the existing three routes suggested Yellowknife could have a more efficient and frequent service by switching to two routes instead.
There was also enthusiasm among councillors for bus service to be extended to Kam Lake, which currently has no access to transit.
A map of proposed future routes prepared by the City of Yellowknife lists three routes, but in effect reduces the number to two.
While the routes are not final, the map shows a “YK connector” that runs from Ndilǫ to Finlayson Drive with a Kam Lake extension, and a route from Borden Drive to Forrest Drive that includes downtown Yellowknife. A third route, the “Niven loop,” is simply an extension of the Borden-Forrest route operated by the same bus.
The Borden-Forrest route already exists. At the moment, Yellowknife’s two other routes include one serving Niven and Old Town, and one from Range Lake to the downtown core. It’s currently not possible to cross Yellowknife by bus without changing services downtown.
The contract to run transit in Yellowknife also includes responsibility for the city’s accessible bus service.
The new contract will kick in on September 1, 2021 and run until 2026.
Details of new routes are expected to be finalized by the end of 2021, followed by a public engagement from January to March 2022 and a rebranding of the transit system that spring. The new routes, including service to Kam Lake, would begin on July 2, 2022.
The city stresses that timeline is tentative and subject to change.
Yellowknife has the only public transit system in the Northwest Territories but councillors were told in 2019 that use of the buses had “flatlined” since the system’s last major overhaul in 2014.
Two years ago, the city saw an average of 15 people on buses for every hour the transit service was on the road.