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Transit service cuts likely coming as council ponders findings in new report

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
June 26th, 2011

Sunday bus service in Nelson could be cut as of Aug. 1 and summer hours of operation could be curtailed as the City prepares to figure how to trim a total of $33,400 from its transit budget for 2011.

The recent findings of a BC Transit Nelson Service Review delivered to City council June 15 recommend a total of five changes, including no Sunday service ($31,000 annual savings), lower summer service ($31,000 savings), no service for Perrier Road (up to $14,000 savings) and no service for Crease and Richards roads (up to $52,000 savings).

As well, there would be no school specific service, cutting 330 hours out of the delivery budget and around $38,000 per year in transit costs.

Overall, the report showed an annual savings of up to $124,000 for the City in delivering transit service.

The long awaited report on re-structuring the City’s transit service now gives council the unenviable task of implementing the findings — with most expecting to be in effect as of Sept. 1 — and bracing for the subsequent backlash from the public.

On Monday night in City council chambers (4:30 p.m.) the report will be delivered and voted on after several months of waiting, and several more months of frustration with how BC Transit had delivered the service to the city.

The cost of the transit service in Nelson had risen sharply in the last three years. The City’s contribution had increased from approximately $220,000 in 2008 to almost $400,000 in 2011, due to decreasing revenue, higher fuel costs and debt servicing on the acquisition of a new fleet.

The largest ridership was students, but ridership had been decreasing as student enrolment dropped, decreasing revenue.

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.

City staff and BC Transit were asked to identify the cost of transit delivery, sourcing out options to reduce transit costs both short term and medium term.

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).

“Both of these increases were implemented later than expected and we are projecting a shortfall in both of these revenue streams,” read a City staff report.

Council will still be asking BC Transit to integrate the city and regional service, with the review recommendations presented to the public later this year or in early 2012. The goal would be to implement new routes in late 2012 or early 2013.

Consultation with the public and the regional district government will also take place.

As well, council is still requesting BC Transit do a complete feasibility study on creating a downtown transit exchange on Victoria Street between Stanley and Ward streets.

editor@thenelsondaily.com

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