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Forth Junction Project
The Evolution of Transit
in Central Alberta

Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
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Railways of Central Alberta

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Rail Bridges & Structures

Trains, Transit & Trails

Historical Perspective 1

Historical Perspective 2

Calgary Edmonton Trail

Rise & Fall of Regional Passenger Rail

3001 'The Chinook'


Regional Transit

Red Deer Transit

Rails to Trails

Red Deer Transit

Transit service was provided in Red Deer as early as 1946. Until 1957, several private firms provided service and there is not much information available about them. A one-bus operation, Red Deer Bus Lines, ran from 1956 until Sorensen Bus Lines took it over in 1957.

Beginning on September 1, 1957, Sorensen Bus Lines ran the city transit service and received a subsidy from the City of Red Deer to operate. It began as a one-bus operation and ran under the name City Bus Lines Ltd. This arrangement continued until transit service was taken over by the City on September 1, 1966. At the time of the city takeover, the service was running 11 buses. These buses were sold to the City; however only 9 entered service with the newly formed Red Deer Transit System.

RD Transit 501 Nov 1968 - P CoxThe bus that effectively became the first R.D.T.S. bus was a gasoline powered 1948 Brill C36. This bus had been purchased used from Calgary Transit by Sorensen Bus Lines in 1963 and was Sorensen number 173. It became R.D.T.S. 501 and then renumbered in 1968 as 71-01 which was the bus numbering format used by the City until the mid-1980s. It ran in its old Calgary colours and was retired in 1969.

RD Transit 502 Nov 1968 P Cox photoThe fleet of buses in the early days of Red Deer Transit was a mix of gasoline and diesel powered buses that consisted mostly of General Motors "Old Look" style buses of 31 and 35 passenger capacities. There were a few school bus style buses as well and a 1950 Prevost Transit bus that was purchased second hand from Diamond Bus Lines (Edmonton) by the City of Red Deer in 1966. This Prevost was bus number 502, later 71-02 and was retired in 1972. A Prevost Transit bus was rare in Western Canada.

Many of these early buses ran until 1981 until they were replaced by Red Deer's last order of General Motors "New Look" buses that were purchased in 1980. The New Look buses in Red Deer were acquired beginning in 1970 with a pair of T6H-5305s, numbered 71-18 and 71-19. Red Deer eventually had 27 GMC New Look buses in the fleet and these were the backbone of the system for years.

RDT 71-20 P Cox photoRed Deer had the distinction of having the very first Canadian built T6H-5307N (serial number C001), bus 71-20 that arrived in August of 1972. It is unfortunate that bus 71-20 was not retained for historical preservation after retirement in December 1990.

Thirteen New Look buses were completely rebuilt in the early 2000s during a time of tight budgets. These rebuilt New Look joined a group of eleven MCI Classics purchased new in 1989 and 1990. The last of the rebuilt GMC buses will retire later this year, and the Classics will begin to disappear over the next while as replacement New Flyer low floor buses arrive. Five New looks that were retired in 2009 went on to provide service for Regina Transit. They will likely see service there for at least a few more years.

A system expansion in 2004 resulted in the need to bolster the fleet by 3 buses to meet the new route demand. Due to the length of time it takes to acquire new buses, the search was on for some used buses. Two 1988 New Flyer D40 buses were found in Quebec and shipped to Red Deer. One of the retired GMC buses, 71-43 was brought out of retirement for another 3 years of service. 71-43 was the last of the "original" New Looks to run in revenue service.

Since 1994, all new bus purchases have been New Flyer Low Floor buses, all D40LF and D40LFR models. All LFR buses are air-conditioned. In 2011, Red Deer Transit's fleet will be 100% accessible.

On August 26, 2007, the Citizen's Action Bus service was brought in to the Department. Operated since January 1979 by the Red Deer Action Group with funding from the City it was decided that for long term sustainability having the service provided directly by the City was required. The drivers and supervisor became City employees at this time, and 15 vehicles were transferred to City ownership.

The Transit Garage at 5438-47 Street was built in the 1960s. This facility was expanded several times and in 1999 a major renovation to the administration area was done at which time an extra storage room for supplies was constructed inside the bus garage in Lane 1.

In 2009, Red Deer Transit, along with 5 other City Departments from the old "west yards" area in Cronquist Business Park, were relocated to a brand new facility in the Riverside Industrial area at 7721-40 Avenue. This move allowed the entire Transit Department to be housed in one building. For several years, the Transit Manager had been working from the Community Services Division in City Hall and with the City taking over the Action Bus operation, room was needed to house this service. Action Bus Dispatch and the supervisor of this area, along with the Transit Manager relocated to the old Atco Gas building, directly across the street from the Transit Garage on 47 Street. The Action Bus vehicle fleet was also stored at this location.

The city centre transfer location was an on-street arrangement that shifted locations over the years. The intersection of Ross Street and Gaetz Avenue was used in the early days, and then the buses moved over to City Hall park where they used three sides of the park. Buses stopped facing westbound on 49 Street, northbound on 49 Avenue, and eastbound on Ross Street. This meant walking distances of over a block depending on which bus customers were changing between. When a reconfiguration of downtown streets was implemented, the buses had to move to 49 Street, which became one-way carrying eastbound traffic, and 48 Avenue south of 49 Street, which remained as a two-way road. Ross Street also became a one-way street carrying westbound traffic.

Red Deer Transit terminal downtownFor many years, the City had been discussing building an off-street transfer facility. During the financial constraints of the 1990s, the project was delayed many times. When the project was finally given the green light by City Council, construction began in the summer of 2001. The 15-bus facility opened on August 19, 2002.

Research and compilation by Steve Parkin
Early RDT photos by Peter Cox used with permission.



Trails, Transit, Trains
Trails and Trains Overview
Trains and Transit Overview

Milestones 1910-13
Calgary Edmonton Trail
Transit in Central Alberta
Red Deer Transit
Jubilee 3001 Chinook
Locomotives Central Alberta
Rise and Fall of Passenger Rail

The Railways of Central Alberta
Calgary & Edmonton Railway
C & E Railway at Red Deer
Alberta Central Railway
Canadian Northern Railway
Canadian Northern Western RR
Canadian National Railway in RD
Grand Trunk Pacific Central Alberta
Lacombe & Blindman Valley RR
Timetable Excerpts
Railway Stations of the Region
C & ER Combination Stations
Portable Stations
Red Deer CPR 1910 Station
Role of Railway Stations
Red Deer's 4 Stations
CPR Stations in Central Alberta
CNR Stations in Central Alberta
Multiple Station Communities
Station Plans

Bridges, Structures, Heritage
Rail Structures of Region
Central Alberta Rail Bridges

Mintlaw Trestle
Alberta's Railway Bridges
Western Canada Rail Bridges



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