The City of Saskatoon is moving forward with plans for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
Council voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to hire a U.S.-based engineering firm to complete planning of routes and implementation for the system, which would focus on bringing riders along the 8th Street and 22nd Street corridors to the downtown core.
The contract was awarded to HDR Corporation for just over $3 million, to provide engineering advice on the project.
HDR is already conducting a study for the city on solutions to ground-level rail crossings across Saskatoon.
An administration report said the BRT study would allow for contingencies related to rail crossing plans.
The BRT system currently involves plans for dedicated bus lanes along 22nd and 8th, allowing for faster travel times from the east and west ends of the city for transit users.
Director of Planning and Development Lesley Anderson said HDR Corporation will have to use 80 per cent of their $3 million in funding by March 31, 2018. A secondary deadline for a final report is due in the spring 2019.
she noted implementation of BRT construction could begin after the first deadline, but was dependent on federal infrastructure funding.
“If we don’t get that funding, city council will take a slower approach,” Anderson said.