News articles about transit and regional bus service
in Central Alberta:
and current activity
Jan. 16, 2019, Red Deer
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
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,
"We'd definitely like to see the service continue. We don't like to
lose any services."
July 30, 2018, Red Deer Advocate (Susan
New transit technology coming
to Red Deer
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
Riders will be able to both hear stop announcements through an
automated system and see stop alerts on an interior sign with the
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
Photo: Riders board a bus at Sorensen Station in Red Deer.
File photo by Advocate staff.
July 9, 2018, Red Deer Express (Janice Dickson,
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
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
"But simply put, the issue that we have seen is the routes in rural
parts of Canada -- specifically Western Canada -- are just not
Kendrick said 415 people will be out of work as a result of the
decision, which he estimates will impact roughly two million
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
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
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
Greyhound leaving downtown
Greyhound Canada is going to
move its Red Deer terminal to
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
It shaves kilometres and travel minutes off the Edmonton-to-Calgary
route now that buses don't have to negotiate city streets, said
"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
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
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
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
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
Photo: UNVEILING - Mayor Morris
Flewwelling unveils the 10th bronze ghost in Red Deer. This
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)
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
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,"
'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
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
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
June 6, 2011, Red Deer Advocate (Brenda Kossowan)
Classic bus cruises
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
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
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
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,
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
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
He has found himself a job that satisfies his cravings and helps him
support what he says is an extremely expensive hobby -- much more
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
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
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
"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
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
He then moved to Sylvan Lake and, with the same Studebaker, began
bus service to Red Deer and shortly after, expanded to Rocky
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
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
"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
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
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
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
Photo: Gordon Sorensen on CHCA television in 1960 for a Lions Club
fundraiser for the Canadian National
Institute for the
courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives
June 15, 2010, Red Deer Advocate (Laura Tester)
Downtown parkade to be named
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.
Randy Fiedler, Red Deer Advocate
Dec. 30, 2009, Red Deer Express (Johnnie Bachusky)
Rare GM public bus saved by
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
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
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
"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.
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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