Banff, AB – The Town of Banff is implementing a number of measures over the Labour Day weekend to manage anticipated high traffic volumes.
One of them is the large signs visitors will see at both entrances to the community, alerting motorists to expect holiday traffic, directing them to long-term parking and encouraging them to bike, walk or take transit around the small townsite.
“We welcome all our visitors,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen, “there’s room for everyone. But if we all try to drive our cars to the same place at the same time, we will have congestion. Cycling, walking and transit are the best ways to get around Banff, particularly on busy weekends.”
Banff is small and walkable, she noted, and local transit serves all the destinations across the Bow River Bridge – the hot springs, the gondola, Cave and Basin and the Banff Springs Hotel—as well as the campsites and hotels on Tunnel Mountain.
The Town is doubling Roam public transit service on Route 1 to Sulphur Mountain to accommodate the extra loads, so that buses will run every 20 minutes.
It is also placing ambassadors at downtown mid-block crosswalks and the crosswalk at Bear/Buffalo Street in front of the post office to coordinate pedestrian movement with traffic signals, which are synchronized to permit uninterrupted travel through the town’s main traffic corridor. Traffic engineers are prepared to manually extend northbound green times in exceptional or emergency situations, as well, though doing so could cause backups in other directions.
When the daily vehicle count in the townsite is over 20,000, motorists can experience delays exceeding 15 minutes. The Town, which monitors traffic flow and travel times using GPS data and wi fi tracking, has noticed that a significant spike in volume, with associated delays, occurs on weekend afternoons between 3 and 7 p.m., as motorists leave the gondola, hot springs or other attractions on the south side of Bow River, and attempt to cross the bridge to return to their campsite, hotel or the highway.
On the Sunday of the August long weekend, the daily count reached 30,677 vehicles, and parked cars overflowed the parking lot on Sulphur Mountain, spilling down both sides of Mountain Avenue and causing hour-long delays on all south side routes. The vehicle count on the Sunday of the 2013 Labour Day weekend was 29,528 vehicles.
Twelve-hour parking is available on Bow Avenue and the Cascade Plaza parkade in downtown Banff, and at the Fenlands, the train station and the high school parking lot, at no charge. The maximum walk time to a transit stop from any of these locations is 10 minutes. There is no time limit in the user-pay parking lots downtown, while other lots, streets and parkades downtown have three- to five-hour limits at no charge. More parking information can be found on banffparking.ca.
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Holiday on Horseback stables and the Banff recreation grounds are a 15- to 20-minute walk, or a 5- to 10-minute bike ride from downtown Banff. Bow Falls and the Banff Springs Hotel are a 15-minute walk along the river in the other direction. The gondola, hot springs and Rimrock Hotel, which are located outside the town boundary, are more easily accessed by transit. Fares on local Roam public transit are $2 for adults, $1 for seniors and children or $5 for an unlimited ride day pass, payable on the bus. Children under 6 ride free.
For information on Banff’s 2014 summer transportation initiatives, visit banff.ca/transportationplan.