2019 Summer Traffic Initiatives
Council received its annual briefing on the efforts to reduce traffic congestion during the summer and the means of tracking results.
Based on data gathered from 2014 to 2019, the efforts are having a positive effect on traffic flow and are reducing congestion. While the number of vehicles coming into Banff were higher in 2019, the number of vehicles crossing the Bow River Bridge are down, and traffic delays caused by volume are down. This suggests more people are parking in downtown and using other methods such as transit, walking and cycling to access attractions on the south side of the river. In addition, the time of travel are being spread throughout the day, alleviating some peak traffic congestion, especially on weekends.
Data showed all transit and shuttle ridership has gone up from 1.2 million in 2018 to 1.6 million in 2019. The addition of the new RV Parking lot and the Train Station Parking Lot proved popular, based on occupancy levels. Bike rack usage increased 8% in 2019 and more people walked across the two bridges, when compared to previous years.
Activities to help reduce traffic congestion included:
- Investments in Roam Public Transit to increase ridership locally and support to On-It Regional Transit to increase ridership to and from Calgary on weekends in the summer
- The Minnewanka Park and Ride free shuttle on Canada Day
- Traffic light controls to keep traffic moving in peak periods on Banff Avenue and Mountain Avenue
- Opening of the Train Station Public Parking near the entrance to town
- Incentives offered by partner organizations such as the Banff Gondola to encourage visitation at times of lower popularity
- Parking lot ambassador during the summer
- Additional bike racks added around town
- A visitor communications strategy partnership between the Town of Banff, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, and Parks Canada to reach visitors before they arrive and inform those already here about transit options
Banff recorded more than 24,000 vehicles per day at the entrances to town this summer, for the first year since tracking began in 2013. Over this threshold of 24,000 vehicles is the point when congestion and delays occur. The data shows a strong correlation between lower traffic days and times when there is poor weather conditions or smoke from forest fires, indicating a large portion of visitors are day visitors who plan coming to Banff less than a week in advance.
Tracking of traffic includes vehicle counters at the two main entrances to Banff and devices to track vehicle travel time between the Bow River Bridge and the Sulphur Mountain Gondola parking lot. Other measures include tracking public transit ridership, pedestrian counters, counters at bicycle racks and parking lot usage.