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News articles about transit and regional bus service in Central Alberta:
history, heritage, evolution and current activity


 

Jan. 16, 2019, Red Deer Express (Editorial)
Connecting communities together
through transit

   This week was the launch of the 2A South Regional Transit service, which connects communities together in Innisfail, Penhold, Springbrook and Red Deer.
   It serves as a huge benefit for people wanting to be more connected with their friends, family or loved ones. Or maybe to simply visit somewhere other than their own community
   The bus will make several stops in each community daily, allowing for people to get to where they want to go when they want to go.
   The service is a great way for people to see what their fellow communities have to offer.
   With four stops in Innisfail, six in Penhold and 10 in Springbrook, the bus then makes a stop at Bower Place where passengers can transfer onto Red Deer Transit to access all parts of the City.
   A nice added benefit is that there will soon be a Transit App for riders to plan ahead, being able to track their schedules.
   One doesn't think too often about the importance of transportation until they are without it, but it can be crucial to one's day, especially those who need to get to and from work.
   Take the whole Greyhound Bus fiasco. With the cancellation of service, riders are left to fend for themselves, looking for other means of transportation or just cancelling their plans, figuring out what they are going to do.
   It's important to realize that it's such a blessing to have transportation and that we should never take it for granted because it really does help us to get to where we need to go, along with helping us continue to build relationships with those around us.
   Rides are currently free now through to Feb. 8th. After this introductory period, the fare is $5 per ride and children five and under can ride for free.


August 15, 2018, Red Deer Advocate
Rural bus routes axed
   Three Greyhound bus passenger routes in Central Alberta will be eliminated on Oct. 24 under the province's plan to open up bus service to competition.
   A dozen rural routes in Alberta and Saskatchewan will be cut, including Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House, Red Deer to Consort and Camrose to Wetaskiwin.
   Greyhound spokesperson Tom Olsen said the Consort route has an average of .6 passengers, the lowest passenger rate of those cut.
   He said for the fiscal year 2009-10, Greyhound lost $7.5 million on passenger transportation in Alberta.
   "These are steps toward solvency," Olsen said on Friday.
   "On the routes that will be discontinued, ridership has been decreasing. That's probably due to a number of factors. People aren't riding the bus as much. People are increasingly leaving rural Alberta to live in the cities."
   Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House averaged 1.9 passengers. Camrose to Wetaskiwin averaged three.
   For decades, Greyhound was protected from competition by the Alberta government in exchange for maintaining minimum service to remote or rural communities.
   In June, Alberta Transportation refused to subsidize the bus company to maintain the routes and deregulated the service.
   "The government's expectation is that smaller, regional carriers will now be able to step up and fill in gaps that might emerge. I understand that there already has been some interest indicated to government from some companies that might be able to offer transportation service," Olsen said.
   Greyhound was required to give a 90-day notice and did so on July 24.
   Consort Village Mayor Wayne Walker said there were days when nobody was riding the Greyhound passenger van.
   "It's not that widely used. But for the few who did use it, it will create some problems," Walker said.
   If there was better advertising, a provider could make it viable, he said.
   "We'd definitely like to see the service continue. We don't like to lose any services."


July 30, 2018, Red Deer Advocate (Susan Zielinski)
New transit technology coming to Red Deer
Six buses to test equipment
   Long waits at bus stops in the hot sun, rain or blowing snow will be a thing of the past in Red Deer by the end of the year.
   Cameras and new technology aboard Red Deer Transit will soon be boosting the security and convenience of riding city buses.
   Six buses are being equipped with stop announcement technology, passenger counting equipment and cameras to test the new systems for two weeks before they are installed in all 62 buses in the fleet starting this fall.
   "They're working on the installation and the calibration right now so those buses should be out in service towards the end of this week I'm expecting, if not sooner," said Steve Parkin, transit superintendent on Monday.
   Test buses equipped with the new technology will display a notice on board so riders are aware and the buses will be rotated through all routes, including BOLT and Red Deer County routes.
   Parkin said as part of the new technology passengers will be able to access a website to find out exactly when their bus will arrive, instead of just relying on the published schedule.
   "You'll actually be able to see it through real time. If it's a cold winter day and your bus stop is a block from your house you know how long it will take to get there."
   The website won't be operational during the test period, but will be available by the end of the year," he said.
   For the first time ever cameras will be also installed on the exterior and interior of Red Deer Transit buses.
   "It protects customers. It protects the City of Red Deer as well in the event of an accident. There are three cameras that view the exterior and there are some interior cameras as well for the passenger area."
   Riders will be able to both hear stop announcements through an automated system and see stop alerts on an interior sign with the new technology.
   Parkin said the technology upgrades coming to Red Deer are standard across the transit industry. Prior to this, the last technological change installed on city buses was in 2015 when the old mechanical fare drop boxes were replaced with electronic fare boxes that records when people board the bus.
   "With the new technology it will be able to count people de-boarding so will give them a better idea of trip patterns."
   Funding for the upgrades came from the federal and provincial governments.
Photo: Riders board a bus at Sorensen Station in Red Deer. File photo by Advocate staff.


July 9, 2018, Red Deer Express (Janice Dickson, Canadian Press)
Greyhound to end bus service in B.C., Alberta
   Greyhound Canada says it is ending its passenger bus and freight services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and cancelling all but one route in B.C. -- a U.S.-run service between Vancouver and Seattle.
   As a result, when the changes take effect at the end of October, Ontario and Quebec will be the only regions where the familiar running-dog logo continues to grace Canadian highways.
   "This decision is regretful and we sympathize with the fact that many small towns are going to lose service," Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
   "But simply put, the issue that we have seen is the routes in rural parts of Canada -- specifically Western Canada -- are just not sustainable anymore."
   Kendrick said 415 people will be out of work as a result of the decision, which he estimates will impact roughly two million consumers.
   The company is blaming a 41 per cent decline in ridership since 2010, persistent competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation services, the growth of new low-cost airlines, regulatory constraints and the continued growth of car ownership.
   Declining ridership is the primary culprit, said Kendrick, who called the combination of declining ridership and increasing costs an "ongoing spiral" that's making it impossible for the company to continue operations.
   He said the company has raised its concerns with provincial and federal officials over the years and wanted to ensure both levels of government were "fully aware" of the situation. Greyhound Canada has long advocated for a community funding model to allow any private carrier to bid on essential rural services, he added.
   This came as news to Claire Trevana, B.C.'s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, who released a statement Monday saying her office had not been warned.
   "It's unfortunate that Greyhound did not communicate their plans sooner. At no point did Greyhound reach out to me, or my staff, to have a conversation on solutions to keep people connected -- something I would have expected, given their long history in this province."
   Trevana said this decision is "hugely problematic" for people who depend on Greyhound, as it will leave people with limited options to get around and will "likely impact the most vulnerable."
   Meanwhile, Kendrick said Greyhound Canada will continue to push Ottawa to look at improving transport in northern communities.
   "There was a commitment to look at our issue, they're well aware of it. It shouldn't come as a surprise that we've had problems but there was no funding commitment at that time," he said.
   "The company has experienced significant losses despite continued efforts to return to viability. In the affected regions, the company has run an operating deficit since 2004. We have had substantial losses over several years as a direct result of declining ridership."
   All Greyhound routes in Ontario and Quebec will continue to operate except for one: the Trans-Canada, which links a number of smaller communities between Winnipeg and Sudbury, Ont.
   Kendrick said the decision will leave most of the affected communities with no other transportation options.
   Greyhound Canada applied to provincial regulators last year to discontinue routes in northern B.C. from Prince George to Prince Rupert because of declining ridership. Those cancellations went into effect June 1.
   The issue of adequate transportation came up repeatedly during the ongoing inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, since one of the affected routes included the notorious stretch of Highway 16 in B.C. known as the Highway of Tears, where a number of women have gone missing.
   The cancellations are scheduled to take effect Oct. 31.


Dec. 6, 2016, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Greyhound leaving downtown
Greyhound Canada is going to move its Red Deer terminal to
Gasoline Alley in the New Year

   Greyhound Canada is on the move in Red Deer.
   The bus company plans to move its terminal from downtown Red Deer to the east side of Gasoline Alley.
   Greyhound regional vice-president Peter Hamel said the company has had its eye on a highway location for years.
   "The footprint in downtown Red Deer doesn't fit the business anymore," said Hamel, who was at Red Deer County's Tuesday municipal planning commission meeting to present the project.
   "We've been trying for 15 years to get to Gasoline Alley. It's always been a perfect fit for Greyhound."
   Greyhound found an ideal location in what was a convenience store run by UFA on the east side of the highway between McDonald's and Burger Baron restaurants. The area is served by the county and city transit service.
   It shaves kilometres and travel minutes off the Edmonton-to-Calgary route now that buses don't have to negotiate city streets, said Hamel.
   "This just allows us to streamline our business right on Gasoline Alley and cut probably 25 minutes off of the schedule."
   Ridership has been down recently because of the economic slump, but Greyhound has not been spinning its wheels.
   "We're very quick to respond," he said. "We've got a new terminal in Edmonton at the VIA rail station.
   "We're working on a new facility in Calgary and this is just part of the continued move to right-size the business and to make sure that revenues exceed costs."
   The County's municipal planning commission unanimously approved a development permit for the project.
   If all goes well, buses could be running out of the new terminal just after the New Year, he said.
   It will serve an estimated 50,000 riders a year, who come to or leave from Red Deer. Another 80,000 passengers pass through as part of longer journeys.
   The location at 41 Petrolia Drive is also more convenient for the line's freight business. Many of those customers are already in Gasoline Alley.
   Greyhound's downtown terminal will be put up for sale.
   Mayor Jim Wood said the county has invested significantly in Gasoline Alley and it is paying off.
   "What Gasoline Alley is in fact doing is it is keeping taxes low throughout our entire county. It's helping subsidize the taxes residents are paying and farmers are paying."
Photo: Frequent Greyhound rider Renee Ryan, left, of Edmonton and her grandmother Pat Ryan, centre left, sit
  on the benches inside the Greyhound bus station in downtown Red Deer Tuesday evening. The elder Ryan says
  the plan to move the Greyhound bus depot to Gasoline Alley in the New Year is unfortunate. "It will be very
  inconvenient" she said. Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff.
  

May 9, 2012, Red Deer Express (Tanis Reid)

Newest City ghost unveiled downtown
Mayor Flewwelling unveils Sorensen ghost RD Express   The City of Red Deer has officially unveiled its 10th statue in its Ghost Collection. The Downtown Business Association commissioned the first ghost project in 1994. Red Deer is proud to have an internationally renowned collection of life-size bronze statues that tell the story of Red Deer.
   "The Ghost Project is one of the pieces of Red Deer that distinguishes us as a community. It was started with a dream that we would have a permanent art collection of bronze on our City streets," say Mayor Morris Flewwelling, at the unveiling.
   The latest ghost, titled 'Waiting for Gordon' is a tribute to Gordon and Julietta Sorensen who ran Red Deer's first bus service and the Blue Derby Cafe which operated out of the bus depot.
   ""Waiting for Gordon' embodies the human aspect of public transit -- the people who offer the service, the people who use it and the relationship between them."
   This bronze masterpiece has been placed at the new transit terminal which has also been named after the couple who launched the transit system in Red Deer in 1957.
   This particular ghost is composed of six separate pieces. There are two depictions in the form of roundels, one of Gordon and one of Julietta, on a wall of the transit building and then there is the statue of Julietta herself with three suitcases by her feet.
   "It was pretty exciting when we called this Sorensen Station but it is even more exciting to see the bronzes to commemorate them," said Flewwelling.
   Kristina Oberg, acting recreation, parks and culture manager said this ghost is meaningful because the Sorensens were seen on the streets all the time.
   "They were at the centre of the community, greeting and feeding people, and taking care of visitors."
   All of the bronze statues in Red Deer have been made by Alberta artists. This particular ghost was created by an artist by the name of Brian McArthur.
   "When I got commissioned to do this project I was happy and encouraged to do it. I am interested in this community's history and being able to tell this story is really fantastic."
   I am very proud and very honoured to create this artwork for my community. I also wanted to share the compelling story of Gordon and Julietta Sorensen, about their frontier spirit and their pioneering bus service that they created in Red Deer and Central Alberta."
   The story behind the sculpture, according to the artist, is that Julietta is stepping out of the Blue Derby, looking down the street, and wondering how long Gordon will be. She is looking out for the luggage for her patrons that are probably eating pie and drinking coffee while they are waiting for the bus.
   Many people gathered for last week's presentation of the new statues. Gordon and Julietta's grandson Ted Sorensen was there to partake in the unveiling.
   "My grandmother always did just what she thought needed to be done. Any recognition was not nearly as important as making sure things got done."
   Ted said the artist really captured his grandmother's essence right down to the barrettes she wore in her hair.
   "The details show her personality. That's her here. That's my grandmother."
Photo: UNVEILING - Mayor Morris Flewwelling unveils the 10th bronze ghost in Red Deer. This sculpture
  captures the likeness of Julietta Sorensen who was instrumental in bringing a transit system to Red Deer.
  Photo by Tanis Reid, Red Deer Express


May 5, 2012, Red Deer Advocate (Renee Francoeur)
Ghost unveiled
   The new bronze sculpture of Julietta Sorensen was revealed to the public for the first time on Friday morning at Sorensen Station downtown Red Deer.
   Sorensen, along with her husband Gordon, was a prominent figure in the city's transit history.
   'Waiting for Gordon' is the 10th sculpture in the Ghost collection of public art, which commemorates key people and events from Red Deer's past.
   It depicts Julietta looking south over a cup of coffee, surrounded by vintage leather suitcases also cast in bronze. She's softly leaning to one side in a button-down dress, a hand on her hip.
   "The ghost collection is one of the great things that distinguishes Red Deer," said Mayor Morris Flewwelling at the public unveiling on the corner of 49th Avenue and 49th Street. "Today we are honouring the Sorensen family."
   The Sorensens operated the city's first bus service and Julietta also ran the Blue Derby Cafe out of the bus depot. She passed away in 2004 at the age of 96.
   The couple is remembered for the way they looked after the community, feeding and greeting locals and visitors, said Kristina Oberg, acting Recreation, Parks and Culture Department manager.
   "It definitely looks like Grandma," said Ted Sorensen, Julietta and Gordon's grandson, who attended the unveiling with many other members of the family. "The stance, the way her hair is done -- pulled back with barrettes . . . it's her."
   Cecil Sorensen, Julietta and Gordon's son, said the sculpture was all around fantastic.
   "We never expected something like this," he said. "Mother would have been shocked, wondering why so much fuss was being made about her," he laughed.
   'Waiting for Gordon' was created by sculptor Brian McArthur.
   "I wanted to share the Sorensens' compelling story about their frontier spirit and capture their co-operative nature of running a family business," said McArthur, who also runs a business, Voyage Art and Tile, with his wife Dawn Detarando.
   'Waiting for Gordon' includes not only the sculpture of Julietta but also two roundels or discs in the shape of bus tires attached to the side wall of the bus station. One of the roundels features Gordon in his bus driver's cap and his hands on the steering wheel. The other one is a side profile of Julietta with a coffee pot at the lunch counter of the Blue Derby.
   The entire project, from start to finish, took about a year, said McArthur.
   Julietta will by no means be the last of the bronze art pieces to decorate city streets and parks, said Brian McLoughlin, the chair of Red Deer's public art committee.
   He said he wants to see the collection expand out of the downtown area.
   Under public art policy with the city, one per cent of all capital projects in the city goes toward public art, he noted.
   "The collection builds a sense of community. It's a reminder of our past . . . I think you have to know where you come from in order to know where you're going," said McLoughlin.
   An antique bus was also on hand at the unveiling with photo displays inside from the early transit days provided by city archives.
   The bronze art collection, said to be one of the largest of its kind in Canada for public art, started in 1994. Other sculptures include city founder Leonard Gaetz, women's rights and farming advocate Hazel Braithwaite, and Doris Forbes with Mickey the beaver, Red Deer's most famous pet.
   Until now, there had been no new additions to the collection since 2004.
 

 June 6, 2011, Red Deer Advocate (Brenda Kossowan)
Classic bus cruises city streets
 

   Its most intimate friends call it a baby fishbowl -- the transit drivers' nickname for an especially rare type of bus that now makes an occasional tour through the streets of Red Deer.
   A scaled-down version of GMC's classic New Look transit bus, the 40-year-old retiree, originally based in Nelson, B.C., has to get out on the streets once in a while, if for no other reason than to keep its oil circulating.
   Otherwise, the seals dry up and start to leak, says owner Steve Parkin, facilities superintendent for Red Deer Transit.
   Fellow transit enthusiast Simon Wiu grins from ear to ear as Parkin brakes for a yellow light, bringing his enormous baby to a smooth stop, right on the line. A shipping clerk based in Toronto, Wiu is on a western tour, visiting fellow "bus geeks" in major cities throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan, starting and stopping in Regina.
   He's clearly impressed with Unit 6000, which had served for 18 years, including surviving a garage fire in 1975.
   Despite its 300,000-plus kilometres, the only rattle in its vintage chassis comes from a loose clamp on the driver's clipboard.
   Unit 6000 is the rarest of the rare -- probably the only bus of its type in Canada that hasn't been scrapped or converted to a camper, says Parkin. He wants to maintain it in the pristine condition in which it arrived in Red Deer, almost two years ago.
   Originally run as Unit 118 for the City of Nelson, it was transferred to BC Transit and renumbered in 1975, after damages from the fire were repaired. BC Transit kept the bus in service in Nelson until 1989, when it was shipped to Victoria and acquired by a local historic group. The group later sold the bus to the private collector from whom Parkin had purchased it.
   After about a year and a half of haggling, Parkin cut a deal, purchasing his baby fishbowl for $3,500.
   The "fishbowl" nickname comes from the New Look model's six-pane front window, which gives drivers a better view than any other bus on the road, says Parkin. His Model TDH-3301 is called the baby fishbowl because it is both shorter and narrower than the standard version.
   Parkin's bus, serial number 112, was the second last of its model that GMC built.
   Three other models of the smaller buses were also built from 1969 through 1973 for a total of 510 altogether.
   By comparison, the company built about 40,000 of the full-sized versions.
   Besides the visibility, the New Look buses handle very nicely and are quite comfortable because of their air-ride suspension, although the non-powered steering gets pretty stiff when it's full of people, says Parkin.
   He recalls sitting in his office the day the baby was due to arrive. He had decided that having it shipped on a transport truck, at roughly $2,500, would be much safer and could end up a lot cheaper than risking driving it home from Vancouver.
   Parkin was worried that its aged engine, built for speeds of no more than 80 kilometres per hour, would not be able to handle the trip. Blowing an engine at the top of Rogers Pass would have cost an awful lot more than what he paid to have it piggy-backed to Red Deer on a flatbed.
   He says his heart and his wallet both took a leap as the trucker delivered his cargo to a loading dock and the unit he had been haggling over for the past year and a half was finally delivered, safe and sound.
   In love with buses since he was a child, when he rode with Red Deer Transit for the pure joy of it, Parkin drove city buses for 10 years before moving into administration, for a total of 20 years in the department.
   He has found himself a job that satisfies his cravings and helps him support what he says is an extremely expensive hobby -- much more than golf.
   He is already looking at $3,000 to fix the wheel rims and replace the tires and is worried about where he'll find parts if something happens to its Toro-Flow diesel engine, which is as rare as the bus itself.
   Those concerns aside, Parkin is king of the road when he's cruising through the streets of Red Deer or showing his baby fishbowl off at classic car events.
   At the phenomenal rate at which it guzzles fuel, however, it's not likely to get very far out of the city.


Feb. 15, 2011, Red Deer Advocate

Transit to retire last high-floor vehicle
   Red Deer Transit will soon be entirely wheelchair accessible.
   The last high-floor bus, a 1980 GMC model, will be retired this week. In its place will be the newest bus on city streets, a 2010 New Flyer model.
   Steve Parkin, transit facilities superintendent with the City of Red Deer, said this changeover marks a milestone in Red Deer's transit history.
   "The old buses served us extremely well but the benefits of the newest buses are many and not just for transit riders," he said.
   The newer buses use clean diesel technology so emissions are greatly reduced, improving air quality.
   Seventy-per-cent of Red Deer Transit's fleet uses clean diesel. The 2010 buses remove particulate matter emissions by more than 90 per cent compared with the older buses they replace.
   The low-floor buses help customers to board and allow them to leave the bus more quickly and more safely than from buses with steps. A ramp at the front door and a kneeling feature will accommodate customers with reduced mobility, as well as people with strollers.


June 16, 2010, Red Deer Express (Erin Fawcett)

Parkade named Sorensen Station
   Red Deer's downtown parkade will be named after a local transportation pioneer.
   The parkade was officially named Sorensen Station after City council gave its approval on Monday night. The station is named after Gordon Sorensen, who began a bus service in the City of Red Deer in 1957. Sorensen died in 1981.
   Cecil Sorensen, Gordon's son, said his parents would be "very pleased" to know the parkade had been named after his father.
   "My dad would have been flabbergasted," said Cecil, who traveled from Saskatoon to be in Red Deer for the announcement. "He would have been very honoured." He added his father's heart was in the transit industry.
   "He started a bus line when we were just little. I can remember the first bus that he had. We were the first one to have the flat bus."
   About six members from the Sorensen family were on hand for council's approval.
   David Radcliffe, chair of the Municipal Features Naming Committee said naming the parkade Sorensen Station "made so much sense". "We thought if the parkade was named in his honour then it would carry on the tradition that he started," said Radcliffe.
   Gordon was raised on a farm near Stettler. In 1933 he, along with an eight passenger Studebaker, started a bus service from Lacombe to Castor.
   He then moved to Sylvan Lake and, with the same Studebaker, began bus service to Red Deer and shortly after, expanded to Rocky Mountain House.
   In 1940, Gordon moved to Red Deer with his family and opened a bus depot on Gaetz Ave. at 51 St. The Blue Derby Cafe was operated by the family at this location.
   In 1945, the building was sold and a new depot and cafe was built between 49 Ave. and Gaetz Ave. on 52 St. This was the depot in Red Deer until Greyhound built their depot in the 1980s.
   In 1954, Gordon began a rural school bus service and expanded to 37 buses when he sold to Prairie Bus Lines in 1957.
   That same year, Gordon began a bus service in the City of Red Deer. He began with one bus and had expanded it to 14 buses when it was sold to the City in 1966. When the City took over, some of the operators and the buses came with it.
   "My father was a man of vision and knew what had to get done and how to get it done," said Cecil.


June 16, 2010, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Sorensen Station name a fitting tribute
Gordon Sorensen and CHCA   On Monday, June 14 Red Deer City Council voted to name the new downtown transit terminal/parkade 'Sorensen Station' in honour of Gordon L. Sorensen.
   It is a fitting tribute to one of Central Alberta's transportation pioneers, who is also remembered as a hard working and highly principled businessman.
   Gordon Sorensen was born on April 23, 1904 in Detroit, Michigan. He moved with his family to a farm near Erskine, Alberta in 1911. In 1928, he was married in Stettler to Julietta Clark. They were to have two children, Audrey and Cec.
   Gordon went into the fur business. However, in May 1933, he started bus service from Lacombe to Castor with an old eight-passenger Studebaker. Unfortunately, the venture proved to be a bust.
   Gordon was not a person who gave up easily. On June 15, 1933, he started a bus service from Red Deer to Sylvan Lake. The move proved to be a success. Gordon found himself transporting more people to summer camps in one day than he had with the entire six-week Lacombe to Castor run. In August 1933, he extended the route out to Rocky Mountain House.
   Gordon found that there was a strong demand for parcel service. Although he only charged 25c per package, parcel delivery provided much needed income.
   Gordon also worked as a relief driver for Greyhound. While he was on those trips, his brother Stan took care of the Rocky Mountain House service. Greyhound paid Gordon 3c per mile, but with trips as long as 400 miles per day, the extra work was worth it.
   Gordon soon needed a bigger vehicle for his regular route. He bought a five-passenger Chevrolet sedan, cut it up and put it on a Chev truck chassis. Thus, he had a 14-passenger bus. Later in 1937, Gordon was able to purchase a 17-passenger International Bus. The new vehicle provided much better service, but the cost made money very tight for the next few years.
   A big boost came with the start of the Second World War and the opening of the Penhold Airbase. Gordon was soon running 16 trips per day from Red Deer to the base. He also opened a bus depot and coffee shop on Gaetz Avenue.
   The Sorensens initially lived above the depot. However, they soon built a house on 55 St. that remained Gordon and Julietta's home for the rest of their lives. The property is the site of the new housing unit being built by the Central Alberta Women's Outreach. Appropriately, it is being named Julietta's Place.
   In 1945, the Sorensen's built a new bus depot on 52 St. Gordon bought a portion of Red Bus Lines out of Drumheller and was soon running routes across Central and Southern Alberta.
   With school consolidations under way, Gordon started a school bus business. He built up a fleet of 37 school buses and had 50 employees. He sold the business in 1957 and it continued on as Prairie Bus Lines.
   Gordon also started a bus, ambulance and hearse dealership. After Gordon sold the business, it became Superior Safety Equipment, one of Red Deer's leading manufacturing industries.
   Despite the challenges of running a growing set of businesses, Gordon and Julietta were active in the community. Gordon was active with the Elks and Masonic Lodges. He was very active with the Lions Club and served as the Lions District Governor in 1945. He was later made a life member of the Club. He and Julietta were also honoured for their volunteer service by being named Chief Elk and Elk Woman by the Blackfoot First Nation at Browning, Montana.
   On August 31, 1956, Gordon bought the city bus service from Dan Donaghy, who had run it since 1947, first with an old army van and later with second-hand buses. Gordon initially only had one City bus. However, over the next 10 years, he built it up to a fleet of 14 buses operating on regular schedules.
   In 1964, Gordon had a serious heart attack. He consequently sold the highway bus service. This was later amalgamated into Greyhound Bus Lines. In 1966, the city bus service was sold to the City of Red Deer. Thus, the Red Deer Transit Department was born.
   Gordon Sorensen passed away in November 1981. Julietta passed away in April 2004. They are buried together in the Alto Reste Memorial Gardens.
Photo: Gordon Sorensen on CHCA television in 1960 for a Lions Club fundraiser for the Canadian National
  Institute for the Blind. Photo courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives



June 15, 2010, Red Deer Advocate (Laura Tester)

Downtown parkade to be named after transportation pioneer Gordon Sorensen
Parkade downtown - Fiedler photo Advocate   Red Deer's new three-storey parkade will officially be called Sorensen Station.
   City council approved on Monday the name of the parkade at 4830-48 St. in recognition of Gordon Sorensen, considered the transportation pioneer for Red Deer and surrounding area.
   Sorensen launched transit service in Red Deer in 1957 and also developed school bussing and all highway buses into Central Alberta. Sorensen died in 1981 at the age of 77.
   Six members of Sorensen's family, made up of three generations, attended council's meeting where they received gifts from the mayor and congratulatory handshakes from all of council.
   Saskatoon resident Cecil Sorensen, son of Gordon, said he'll feel very proud when he travels by the parkade one day and see the words "Sorensen Station" on the building. He described his father as a man of vision who was "very forceful in his ways."
   "I know my parents would have been very pleased," said Sorensen. "He (Gordon) would have been flabbergasted, very honoured."
   Sorensen said the bus line was his father's life. He started it, first with one bus in Red Deer, when Cecil was small.
   "I can remember the first bus -- it had a flat nose," Sorensen said. "We lived in Rocky Mountain House and drove back and forth."
   The bus service eventually grew to 14 buses before Gordon Sorensen sold it to the City of Red Deer in 1966.
Photo: Shunda Construction labourers install signs on the southside facade of new downtown parkade Monday.
   Photo by Randy Fiedler, Red Deer Advocate


Dec. 30, 2009, Red Deer Express (Johnnie Bachusky)

Rare GM public bus saved by City bus man
Parkin's bus - Miller photo   Steve Parkin has been a lover of transit buses for as long as he can remember.
   He loves the way they sound roaring down a city street, the smell of their diesel fumes and their many different styles and shapes.
   For almost the past 21 years, Parkin, 44, has worked for the City's transit department.
   He is now the transit facilities superintendent, in charge of the light maintenance of the City's 50 buses. He is truly at home, doing a labour of love for a living.
   But this past summer he finalized an even bigger dream -- acquiring his very own bus.
   And this vehicle is no ordinary transit bus. It is a collector's treasure; an extremely rare antique General Motors model TDH-3301 - a 30-foot, 33-passenger 'short' bus that was built in 1971.
   GM built 113 of the TDH-3301 model. Steve's bus is number 112 of those 113. Only 20 of this model were imported to Canada.
   "It's extremely rare. That was the thing that made me want to acquire this one," said Parkin.
   At the time they called Steve's treasure the 'New Look Bus'. GM built 510 various models of the 'short' 30-ft. buses from 1969 to '73, while producing more than 40,000, between 1959 and 1986, of the 35-foot and 40-foot buses. These longer buses serviced most North American urban centres.
   When he started working for the City in 1989 the entire fleet of longer buses (there were no 30-foot models) was manufactured by GM. Today, there is only one 40-foot GM bus left in the Red Deer fleet.
   A few years ago, while surfing through various bus internet chat sites, Parkin came across a notice that a private Vancouver collector wanted to find a new home for an old bus.
   Parkin soon learned it was a prized GM short bus, one that was first delivered to Nelson, B.C. in 1971 for public transit. He also found out his transit treasure had survived a huge garage fire in 1975 that wiped out Nelson's transit facilities. The bus, after repairs, continued to run in Nelson until 1989. It went to a historical group and then to the private Vancouver collector.
   "This bus was damaged but not so heavily they couldn't save it," said Parkin, noting the vehicle was somewhat a collector's item even in 1971. "It was the only one brought to B.C. that was of this particular version."
   After many months of lengthy discussions, and working with the owner to ensure a few repairs were made, Parkin went to Vancouver last July to get a first-hand look and test drive the rare 30-footer.
   "It was in amazing condition especially considering the age of it," said Parkin. "There was no corrosion on it and the previous owner kept it up really well. It is good enough now that it actually passed the commercial inspection in B.C."
   Before the deal was sealed Parkin had a bigger obstacle to overcome -- finding insurance.
   Few insurance companies would even consider covering the antique.
   But Parkin was able to convince his own insurance company to provide coverage.
   "The fact it was still a seated bus the insurance companies were worried about liability but luckily my own car insurance folks took it on with the understanding it would run with an antique plate, which is very restrictive, very limited use," said Parkin, who is not permitted to drive the bus with passengers.
   When the deal was ultimately finalized last summer Parkin paid the Vancouver collector $3,500. He then put out another $2,800 to have the bus transported to Red Deer. (The short bus can't be driven on major or secondary highways as its maximum speed is only 50 mph.)
   In August he was finally able to sit in his own bus, and then take it for a leisurely drive.
   "It gets lots of looks when I am driving around in it, mostly because it is so short," said Parkin.
   And while Parkin's bus may be short its future is now securely longer. The once "New Look" bus is now looking even newer in the devoted hands of a passionate bus man.
Photo:
Wheels Rolling - Steve Parkin poses by his rare antique General Motors model TDH-3301 --
   a 30-foot, 33-passenger 'short' bus that was built in 1971.
Photo by Brendan Miller, Red Deer Express


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