Collaboration in business is the catalyst for solving challenges. Over the years, traffic management has come into sharper focus for Parks Canada, the Town of Banff, local businesses operating in the park and Banff residents.
For many Calgarians, Banff is a popular destination for day trips and weekend getaways. But convincing them to leave their car downtown and use mass transportation to minimize congestion hasn’t always been easy.
A few years ago, a constructive partnership was formed when the Town of Banff, Parks Canada, Roam Transit and Pursuit came together with a shared mission — to reduce car dependency and traffic volumes once visitors reached downtown Banff, reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, demonstrate unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship, make the Town of Banff more accessible and enhance the overall visitor experience of this iconic destination.
Visitors to Banff were at record numbers this summer, yet Mountain Avenue was quieter than at any pre-pandemic time since 2016. In addition to this being validated by Town of Banff statistics, residents also shared this opinion in a recent community survey. This was achieved through a collaboration that provides a mass-transportation solution following the spirit and the letter of the Moving People Sustainability Panel Recommendations, which were presented by an expert advisory panel to Parks Canada in January this year.
Over the past few years, this partnership has led to the reduction of traffic congestion and overall vehicles moving within the park, specifically on routes to Banff’s major attractions such as Lake Minnewanka and the Banff Gondola during peak season. While car use remains core to visitors exploring the Canadian Rockies due to the varied and flexible routes they take to and through the area, car dependency and volumes on local streets have reduced significantly. This has been made possible through a combination of removing barriers to mass transportation, encouraging advance booking and financially supporting Roam to make travel free to guests.
This past summer, for example, more than 190,000 guests took mass transit to visit the Banff Gondola. The decrease in traffic in the town resulted in 112,200 kilograms of carbon gas emissions being removed. That’s equivalent to more than 60,000 vehicles taken off the road. A staggering two million overall used Roam to access experiences around Banff.
Energy conservation and decarbonization is a top priority for many organizations. Our partnership presents an infrastructure-light, scalable solution that enhances the national park experience and serves as a model to build on. It presents a future where guests can leave a car in downtown Banff or at their hotel, and venture out to explore.
As people feel more confident to move freely post-pandemic, it is imperative that service providers be ready and equipped. On Oct. 5, CTV News reported Roam Transit transported two million passengers — a 60 per cent jump from 2022 — and that Parks Canada’s shuttles in Banff National Park had a 29 per cent increase in ferrying more than 300,000 passengers. Free transit for locals and Banff Gondola passengers, increased transit frequency and a new pedestrian bridge are major contributors to this success.
Sustainable partnerships in the tourism and travel industry beckon us toward a brighter future. In a world grappling with climate change, it’s our collective duty to reimagine how we operate, so that the towns of Banff and Lake Louise can thrive, and Calgarians driving into Banff have memorable experiences.
When we join forces, we can drive change that matters. Sustainable partnerships secure the future of our planet. Together, Roam Transit, Parks Canada, Pursuit and the Town of Banff have demonstrated that progress can be green. Let us embrace these sustainable partnerships as an indication of how Banff partners can co-invest in a brighter and more responsible tomorrow.
Stuart Back is the chief operating officer of Pursuit’s Banff Jasper Collection. Pursuit is an attractions and hospitality company that owns and operates a collection of inspiring and unforgettable experiences in iconic destinations in Canada, the United States and Iceland.