With BC Transit in the process of working with the City and other regional partners in developing a regional transit strategy — and the review to be completed by late fall of 2011 — the provincial transit deliverer will meet with City council Monday night to give more details on forthcoming changes.
BC Transit’s Kevin Schubert, regional transit manager and Rodi De Vuono, fleet/transit manager, have requested an audience with council to provide a Transit Service Update.
Over the past two and a half months BC Transit staff has been working with the City’s transit department to gather additional ridership information and develop a schedule that would be consistent with the decisions made by council.
Although initially it did not look like the proposed schedule changes would allow the city to reduce by a transit bus, by making some small changes to schedule it now appears possible for the City to reduce by one transit bus.
BC Transit has also developed a new process for service changes which includes the city entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which outlines the objectives and deliverables, the proposed service changes and the timelines for implementation (see attached).
Council had requested BC Transit review the way transit is delivered in Nelson as a sub-set of the larger plan. The goal was to identify potential efficiencies at the local level and to identify opportunities to better integrate with the regional system.
BC Transit was asked to identify cost containment opportunities both in the short-term and in the medium term.
At the Council meeting on June 27, 2011, Council approved a number of cuts, including the discontinuance of Sunday service (effective August, 2011), school specific runs (effective September, 2011), the enhanced summer schedule (effective September, 2011) and service to Perrier Road (effective January, 2012) .
The decision to remove service to Crease and Richards was deferred until additional rider count information was obtained.
“Subsequent to this meeting, staff reported that it would be too disruptive to employees to make these changes piece meal over the year and it would be preferable to make all changes at one time, with the exception being the Sunday service,” said a City staff report prior to the meeting.
Getting a grip on the costs
During the 2011 budget discussions it was identified that the city’s contribution to Nelson transit would have to be increased by $128,000 from 2010 in order to fund the higher costs of operating the transit system in the city.
Staff and BC Transit were asked to identify cost reductions up to the full additional cost of $128,000, this was presented to council in June 2011.
The extra revenue to fund the transit shortfall has been allocated from increased parking meter rates ($100,000) and increase in transit rates ($28,000).
The city had projected an increase in parking meter revenue of $300,000; $200,000 was to be allocated to the paving program and $100,000 to transit. Staff is currently projecting the parking meter revenue increase to be $120,000 a shortfall of $180,000 from the budget.
If the shortfall is allocated the same way as the original revenue then the operating budget (transit) will have a $60,000 shortfall.
However, City staff was able to have the balance of the PTIP grant allocated against the leasing costs for 2011/12 and this reduces the costs in 2011 by $34,000. With the proposed reductions in the MOU it is estimated that transit will have a deficit of approximately $6,000 in 2011.
BC Transit will be in attendance at the next City council committee of the whole meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 19, to provide an update on City of Nelson Transit Services.
It is expected the forthcoming integration of the city and regional services could be revealed for the first time, as well as how the cuts council implemented this summer were received.
In July, City council announced a total of five cuts to transit service in Nelson — the first of which came into effect Aug. 1 with the elimination of Sunday service.
Council voted in late June in favour of slicing and dicing the Sunday offering in order to save $31,000 out of the City’s annual budget for transit.
The City also cut service to Perrier Road, Crease and Richards streets, the “overload’ runs to the Waldorf School and reduced its summer service.
BC Transit did not recommend the cuts, they came from a desire of council to reduce the cost of delivering transit in Nelson. BC Transit was asked earlier this year to find a way to save the City $128,000 on their annual operating costs for transit.
During the 2011 budget discussions it was identified the City’s contribution to Nelson Transit would have to be increased by $128,000 from 2010 to fund the higher costs of operating the transit system in the city.
The share of the City’s share of transit costs has almost doubled since 2008, including a $128,000 increase to the City’s budget for 2011. During this time, a City report stated, ridership has been “stagnant” or declining and operating costs have been rising.
The extra revenue to fund the shortfall has been allocated from increased parking meter rates ($100,000) and an increase in transit rates ($28,000).
The short term route changes and service adjustments will reduce the total cost of providing transit in Nelson by up to $232,000 in 2012, with the City saving $124,000.
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