Sturgeon Refinery

Workforce on Board for Busing Program

By Vanessa Goodman
Chair, Life in the Heartland

Over 1500 construction workers have swapped their personal vehicle for a WiFi equipped highway coach on their daily commute to the Sturgeon Refinery. The workforce busing program began just over a year ago, and already 61 routes transport staff and contractors to site for free from around the Capital Region.

With a peak workforce of 3000-5000 people expected at the site of the Sturgeon Refinery in Sturgeon County near Redwater, North West Redwater Partnership (NWRP) had plans for mass transportation since the company broke ground years ago. NWRP recognized the Heartland region was already busy, with thousands of employees, residents, commercial vehicles, and visitors travelling to, and through, the area every day.

Success in Year One

It took until September 2014 for the onsite workforce to reach a critical mass to warrant busing. The program started with five routes, picking up workers near their residences so there would be no need for commuting to park and ride lots. As more employees opted for the bus, additional routes were added, increasing the convenience for those riding. And thus, ridership increased.

By late September 2015, 61 routes were transporting over 1500 riders to site, representing 70% of craft and staff employees with common shift hours. As various stages of construction begin and end, the goal remains at 70% ridership.

Benefits for the Workforce

Maintaining ridership levels shows that a majority of employees see the benefits of bus transportation versus private vehicles. Those who opt to ride the bus have the advantage of:

  • Preferential departure time from site at the end of the day
  • Saving money on fuel and personal vehicle wear-and-tear
  • Safe and convenient mode of transportation to work

Benefits for the Community

Each bus on the highway replaces a significant number of private passenger vehicles. For families who live and work in the area, this means:

  • Reduced traffic congestion on area highways caused by construction, operations or maintenance at various industrial sites throughout the Heartland
  • Increased safety on area highways due to a reduction in traffic
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from fewer vehicles being on the road

As the Sturgeon Refinery approaches peak construction in 2015 and into 2016, area roadways will see increased industrial, commercial, and employee traffic. The continued success of NWR’s busing program will help ease the challenges and increase the safety on local highways.