I must admit, this question hadn’t actually crossed my mind until it was brought up in conversation recently. I don’t think it’s a feasible idea for a variety of reasons, but I do intend to follow up with some folks that would know the intricacies better than I.
1. There’s no doubt that Calgary transit would charge more for the service. Why? Because they’re having a hard enough time providing service to a rapidly growing city, and to justify the additional complexity of getting equipment and drivers to Cochrane would necessitate charging us more than what it would cost to do ourselves (due to both economic and political reasons).
2. The politics. Calgary Transit is run by the City of Calgary. The City of Calgary is run by administrators who report to the elected City Council. City Council is elected by the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Calgary. Nowhere in that loop is there a mechanism for providing transit services to Cochrane (because we don’t pay city taxes or vote in city elections), unless we’re looking at being annexed by the city and paying into the city pot. We can’t even get a new logo approved in this town. Can you imagine the idea of being annexed by Calgary? So much for the “small town feel” that we all love…
3. The trend of de-centralization. There are certain services that do well with some central organization (something like education, which should usually be uniformly applied across the province). Things like municipal services need to be delivered at the local level. The people directly affected by services should try to retain as much control as possible on that service delivery, so that it best suits the needs of the community (and is flexible and adaptable to changing needs). Imagine if we needed to add a bus route, or change a route…easier to do from the RancheHouse or from City Hall in Calgary? Where do you have more influence?
I’m not suggesting that there isn’t some room for the integration of transit services. It would be great if holding a bus pass in Cochrane got you discounts in the city, or if you could purchase an integrated pass so that you can access the system in the city. Perhaps even the express shuttle from Cochrane to Calgary could be a joint project with Calgary Transit. What I am suggesting is that the notion of Calgary Transit providing local service in Cochrane has about the same likelihood of coming about as, say, the Man of Vision logo being reworked (and not causing a 6-month uproar in the media).
I’ll report back with any information I dig up from people that know significantly more about transit in the YYC area than myself. Stay tuned.